Television Series #9:
“The Undoing” (2020), directed by Susanne Bier, based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, was an immediate hit upon its release at the start of the new year. Starring Nicole Kidman (who had already made her memorable integration from film to television with the popular series “Big Little Lies” in 2017) and the lovable 90’s heartthrob Hugh Grant as the leads, “The Undoing” follows a therapist as her elite New York City social circle begins to unravel when a young newcomer is murdered.
Grace Fraser (Kidman) is an esteemed psychologist whose young son, Henry (“American Honey”‘s Noah Jupe), attends a prestigious Manhattan school, Reardon, where she enjoys friendships with other successful working mothers. She comes from a prominent New York family led by patriarch Franklin Reinhardt (magnificently portrayed by Donald Sutherland) and is married to a pediatric oncologist, Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant). Grace and her fellow Reardon committee members are in the midst of planning a charity fundraiser, when a mysterious and seductive young mother joins their group. Her name is Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) and though she has not done anything particularly distressing, her behavior begins to make Grace and some of the other women uncomfortable. The night of the big event, Grace finds Elena disheveled and hysterical in the bathroom before she decides to leave early. The next day she is found murdered.
The unexpected incident shakes everyone up at the school in the same way any type of salacious gossip would, but things take a grim turn when Grace’s husband disappears without a trace “on a work trip,” abandoning his phone and leaving his family in the dark about his true whereabouts. When detectives start to flock the Fraser household and it becomes clear that Jonathan is actually a suspect in the case, the titular “undoing” of Grace’s world begins.
It was the first HBO show to increase its viewership each week over the course of the season, and was the biggest U.S. show to launch on Sky in the U.K, beating the record previously held by “Game of Thrones” (2011 – 2019). There is so much to love about this series. There is glamorous and jaw-dropping costuming and delightfully austere interiors. The cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle magnifies the steely mystery fall and winter tones. Viewers get to see a different side of Grant and enjoy a sharply cutting performance by up and coming actor Noma Dumezweni (as Haley Fitzgerald, powerhouse attorney). It will undoubtedly keep you guessing until the finale and the opening credits showcase a rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by the star herself, Nicole Kidman (reprising her voice from the days of “Moulin Rouge!”). It goes without saying that this is a must-see, if a classic murder mystery is your thing.
Update: Revision – Noah Jupe is in Shia Labeouf’s “Honey Boy” (2019) not Shia Labeouf’s “American Honey” (2016).