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The Undoing Review: Nicole Kidman-Hugh Grant's Film Is A Pure Pulp Gourmet

Here's our review for The Undoing starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Edgar Ramirez and directed by Susan Bier

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The Undoing Review: Nicole Kidman-Hugh Grant's Film Is A Pure Pulp Gourmet

There has been a lot of criticism about this upper class miniseries for being unrealistic. But as far as I can see, The Undoing never tries to be real. It is meant to be unreal, gauzy and ultra-glamorous. The protagonists live in a glass house, literally, and who are we to throw stones? Destiny does it to them, as we sit back and marvel at the money time and effort spent in trying to save an obviously guilty man from a murder charge who feels no remorse for what he has done.

This is not a morality tale.  And to look for a conscience in the layers of affluence is to look for a needle in a haystack. The Undoing plunges us into the lives of the elite couple Grace and Jonathan Fraser, played with chic aplomb by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant- two of the most glamorous movie stars of our generation. To cast them as a high-class couple with a perfectly appointed home son and a life that comes part within day after a gruesome murder, is a stroke of genius.

Kidman specially holds the show together. As she goes from bliss to betrayal to backstab, she exudes a supreme sang-froid. Yes, this is a fan talking. She is in a comfortable space here, and so is the series which complements the mood of elegant hauteur with spectacular shots of New York’s skyline and gleaming interiors where spilt blood from a split skull just doesn’t fit in.

To be very honest, I was hooked from the word go. Not because The Undoing has any great social message to offer. It is unpretentious in its worshipful tone towards the beau monde, and yet it ruthlessly uncovers the grime under the gloss, to reveal that the man or woman who has been sleeping next to you for years could be a perfect stranger.

Surface perfection is first anointed and then demolished in this delightful mercurial nimble-footed crime confection where the twists and turns celebrate an opulent obviousness. There is no surprise in the denouement (and in fact the closing 15-20  minutes are the worst section of the fine urban fable). But the thrill of getting there is relentless.

The  performances are all excellent. Among the supporting cast, young Noah Jupe as Kidman and Grant’s son, Noma Demezweni as Grant’s defence lawyer, Edgar Ramirez as the investigating officer and Ismael Cruz Cordova as the murdered woman’s husband are world-class. But the real stand-out is the seasoned Donald Sutherland as Kidman’s wealthy father. Sutherland has some of the best lines and he chews on them like a veteran visitor to a familiar delicatessen.

Curiously, Hugh Grant known to be such a scenestealer even when pitched against the redoubtable Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, here ALLOWS (and I do mean allows) all his co-stars to steal the show from him. In his confrontational scenes with wife Kidman, father-in-law Sutherland and even son Noah Jupe, Grant just withdraws from the rituals of one-upmanship to let his co-stars have a field day.

And by jove, they do. So do we. I'll gio with 3.5 stars. 

Image source: HBOmax
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