The Undoing Review: Infidelity, Lust and Murder Make This Miniseries Exhilarating
Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Matilda De Angelis, Noah Jupe
Director Susanne Bier and writer David E Kelley have come together to present an excellent miniseries of six episodes (each almost an hour long) titled, The Undoing. Both Bier (The Night Manager, After The Wedding) and Kelley have specialised in portraying rich and classy couples who go into a free fall. The Undoing follows a similar pattern, and the superb casting -- with brilliant performances by Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and, of course, Donald Sutherland -- pushes the TV series beyond the clouds to exhilarating heights.
Now playing on Disney-Hotstar (or HBO), the work traces the life of a smugly- satisfied-with-the world couple – psychologist Grace Fraser (Kidman) and Jonathan Fraser (Grant), a paediatric oncologist. Their only child, Henry (Noah Jupe), goes to a posh, upper-class school which has been liberally funded by his grandpa, essayed by Donald Sutherland whose remarkably varied expressions conveying anger, disappointment, sheer frustration and paternal softness are a treat to watch.
Jonathan is a Casanova of sorts, and when he gets sexually involved with Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis), his carefully cultivated bubble bursts. She, married and a mom, gets tryingly possessive of Jonathan, and things look like getting out of hand when she is found murdered in her studio.
Jonathan becomes a suspect, and the picture begins to look all the more murky, when Grace finds out that her husband had been out of work at his hospital for two years. And a single lie like this can get even the most adoring of wives suspicious. When it is finally revealed that Jonathan has even fathered Elena's new-born child, the doctor is certainly in a dark, dark pit, and the faint hope he may have had of getting back with Grace is crushed.
The series, like typical mystery thrillers, swerves yet again, when the New York Police Department detectives Mendoza (Edgar Ramírez) and schlubby O’Rourke (Michael Devine), tell the wronged wife that she too is a suspect. A camera had captured her walking near the scene of the crime and at the time when it was committed.
The Undoing carefully details every character. Grace's father, for instance, who has always hated Jonathan, because as he reveals to her later, he himself was a compulsive philanderer, and did see traces of this in his son-in-law.
Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel, You Should Have Known, Bier's creation has all the masala -- lust, greed, a missing person and pomposity. And episode after episode leaves us thirsting for more in this neatly narrated, beautifully edited and wonderfully crafted series. But, where The Undoing's undoing lies is in the fact that Grace despite being a leading New York shrink, fails to notice the little clues her husband may have given away.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is Author, Commentator and Movie Critic)