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Dazzling Glamour, Grisly Murder In The Undoing



The  Undoing(HBO,6 episodes)

Starring Nicole  Kidman,Hugh Grant, Donald  Sutherland, Edgar Ramirez

Directed by Susan Bier

Rating: *** ½

There has been  a  lot of criticism about this upperclass 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 offer 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.

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