“The Undoing”–Deeds Undone
This HBO original mini-series, The Undoing, is a police procedural based upon the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.
We observe the daily life of a highly successful New York therapist, Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman), a specialist in marriage counseling, as well her husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), a successful pediatric oncologist. Their teenage son Henry attends an elite private school which receives generous donations from Grace’s father (Donald Sutherland). At a school fundraiser Grace learns more about a beautiful woman Elena (newcomer Matilda De Angelis), who turns up brutally murdered the next day. Elena’s son, whose life was saved by Jonathan, attends the same elite school. The police soon consider Jonathan their primary suspect and the case subsequently goes to trial with Grace’s dad begrudgingly paying for the best criminal defense lawyer in Manhattan.
When Jonathan takes the stand, he charms with his admission of his flaws and lies, but declares his innocence because he truly loved Elena. Grace is left crushed by his confession of love for the murdered victim. She must decide whether to walk away from life with Jonathan, and create another for her son and herself. Grace struggles with Henry’s obvious grief over their estrangement and the possibility of a murder conviction for his father. Can their family survive this? Should they try to remain a family? Or will there be an inevitable undoing, a wind that threatens to unsettle everything?
There are many exceptional red herrings with so many suspects with motive. Hints that the cheerful bright exterior of this “one-percenter” couple didn’t really “have it all” seemed to crescendo into a climax involving Grace’s father, her son, her best friend, Elena’s husband, and even Grace.
The ending was disappointing for this viewer, and casts a shadow on the preceding episodes which were often well-done electrifying family drama. Intergenerational conflict– and a foreboding that ultimately didn’t materialize at all –were notable. While many viewers judge an entire drama by the ending, and I understand this, The Undoing is still very much worth watching to see excellent performances by both Kidman and Grant, as well as the supporting cast. Imagine another ending for an unconditional A+
Availability: HBO Max