HBO Miniseries The Undoing is an Intense, Twisty Thriller

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Plot: The life of Dr. Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) begins to unravel when Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis), the mother of a student that attends the same posh, private school as her son Henry (Noah Jupe) is murdered.

Background: The Undoing is an HBO mini-series that spans across six episodes. It was slated for release in May of this year but ended up being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was eventually released on the October 25. It is based on the 2014 novel “You Should have Known” by Jean Hanff Korelitz. The series is directed by Danish film director, screenwriter and producer Susanne Bier, best known for the 2004 Danish psychological thriller Brothers, the acclaimed The Night Manager series and Netflix’s Birdbox.

NICOLE: Is that too tight? HUGH: Yes NICOLE: *pulls tighter*

Nicole Kidman is the queen of thrillers in my book, and she thrives in this particular genre like a duck takes to water. So no surprise here that she outshined the rest of the cast in terms of her performance. The opening credits (if you pay attention) is very symbolic in its representation of her character Grace Fraser’s life in that she was carefree, trusting and happy, protected in a world of her own. It shows a little girl with similar hair color that is a representation of a young Grace. The last scene of the opening credit shows a bubble being popped, which I believe represents Grace’s life and world about to be shattered.

Kidman is no stranger to using her pipes and lends her voice to the score by singing “Dream A Little Dream.” Grace Fraser seems to lead the idyllic life. She is a successful therapist. She lives in an upscale apartment in New York and wants for nothing. Then her life is suddenly turned on its head by the murder of Elena Alves. Nothing is ever the same for Grace and, never the type of person to ask for help, she eventually confides in her father Franklin Reinhardt (Donald Sutherland) and her best friend corporate lawyer Sylvia Steineitz (Lily Rabe).

Come Henry. It’s time to find Neverland!

What the series tended to do was to distract the audience all along the way by putting you in Grace’s POV so that you experience the shock factor along with her when things begin to unravel. You ignore the potential red flags just like Grace because you want a specific outcome due to a certain bias. Of course, we do know that with most thrillers there is always the tendency to throw in a few twists, but there are lots of smoke and mirrors in between that will lead you down this path or another. Especially when you see the brutality of the murder and you begin to question what type of person would do such a thing to another human being?

There are other elements to this series that make it even more wholesome in the fact that it acknowledges that most marriages are flawed and imperfect. But, if the two parties are willing, it can work. Sutherland does an excellent job at portraying the protective father/grandfather. Who wouldn’t want him in their corner after seeing him in action and using his financial power and wits. But what I admired was his steadfast support of his daughter throughout the fiasco, even when he questioned some of her decisions. A special mention to young actor Noah Jupe as the conflicted Henry who just wanted his family to be put back together again and loves them with all his might. He’s a good son which makes you feel for his pain. He isn’t a spoiled brat despite being privileged, and his reactions were perfectly normal considering the events that were taking place.

Yes, I did buy this coat at a thrift store. Why do you ask?

If Edgar Ramirez wanted to play the role of a hard-nosed, super annoying and antagonistic detective, well he sure as hell nailed it as Mendoza. I disliked how his character bullied and badgered Grace to the point of almost giving the poor woman a nervous breakdown. Yes we could possibly argue that he was only trying to do his job, but he was so brutal in his methods it made me have an instant dislike for the character.

Hugh Grant gives one of heck of a complex and layered performance as Jonathan Fraser. He comes across as the charming doctor who cures children from cancer. But when his character is brought into question the audience will get caught up in the whirlwind of trying to figure out just who is the real Jonathan Fraser? Is he really capable of such a manipulation? Is he indeed innocent?

JONATHAN: I do believe that chap is staring at us GRACE: Are you sure? His eyes are wide shut

While I understand the ending may not be to everyone’s satisfaction, I believe that it is the ending that the series deserved. It was extremely intense up to the last minute not knowing what was going to happen. I even realised that I was holding my breath for a bit because it was not only super dramatic and emotionally taxing, but you just wanted Grace’s character not to have to suffer anymore. When you see the finale, you will understand why I said this.

You can’t please everyone all the time (that’s a given) but in my humble opinion this one is worth the effort. You’ve got a talented A-list cast and a story that’s going to make your head spin. And at the end of it all you might just feel undone.

Alice’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

For my review of psychological thriller The Lie you can click here. And for more thrilling reviews you can check out our Thriller Time section here

39AFB96D-4DEF-4DED-8DFE-3400E758CE9B Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.

I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.