Granger on Film: 'The Undoing' a suspenseful, addictive crime thriller

Nicole Kidman in a drama based on a mystery novel? The producers behind Big Little Lies and The Undoing adapt Liane Moriarty's book for Hulu. Regina Hall, Melissa McCarthy, Samara Weaving and Michael Shannon are the other strangers who may prove to be less than perfect.
Nicole Kidman in a drama based on a mystery novel? The producers behind Big Little Lies and The Undoing adapt Liane Moriarty's book for Hulu. Regina Hall, Melissa McCarthy, Samara Weaving and Michael Shannon are the other strangers who may prove to be less than perfect.CBSI/CNET

Writer David E. Kelley (“Big Little Lies,” “Ally McBeal”) and Danish director Susanne Bier (“The Night Manager, “Bird Box”) collaborate on "The Undoing," a compelling six-hour HBO mini-series. The psychological drama is about a wealthy Manhattan couple who seemingly have it all -- until a gruesome murder rocks their world.

Dr. Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) is an intelligent, insightful clinical psychologist, married to Dr. Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant), a renowned pediatric oncologist who becomes a prime suspect when artist Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis) is brutally bludgeoned in her Spanish Harlem studio.

Grace barely knows the victim apart from a few brief encounters since their sons attend the same elite Upper East Side prep school. Yet over the next few episodes, the marital melodrama deepens, probing the dilemma: “Who can I trust?”

There’s the Frasers’ traumatized son Henry (Noah Jupe) and Grace’s protective father Franklin (Donald Sutherland), along with Elena’s son Miguel (Edan Alexander) and husband Fernando (Ismael Cruz Cordova).

Edgar Ramiez plays the lead NYPD detective, Lily Rabe is Grace’s best-friend and Noma Dumezweni scores as Jonathan’s no-nonsense defense attorney.

“Their lives are artificial constructs in a certain way,” says Kelley. “The belief that if you get the right job and your kids go to the right school and you jump through the right societal hoops - there’s an illusion to that construct, and what happens when the perpetrators of that illusion begin to believe their own false narratives?”

Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s best-selling 2014 novel “You Should Have Known,” there’s obviously deep trouble lurking just beneath the superficial veneer of the Frasers' "perfect" lives.  As a result, it’s a nail-biter until the final segment reveals whodunit.

Although Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant had never worked together before, they achieve great specificity. Statuesque Kidman embodies the role of a devoted wife overwhelmed by her husband’s potential for perfidy, while Grant oozes endearing compassion and seductive charm.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Undoing” is a suspenseful 7, an addictive crime thriller.

Susan Granger has been an on-air television and radio commentator and entertainment critic for more than 25 years. Raised in Hollywood, Granger appeared as a child actress in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Lassie. She currently resides in Westport.