The Undoing: An Intriguing Mystery with Curious Execution (Blu-ray)
David E. Kelley has had quite the extraordinary career, having created such smash hits as "Picket Fences," "The Practice," and "Boston Legal," resulting in him having racked up a very impressive haul of 11 Emmys. Recently, he's even gotten into Limited Series, giving us the remarkable "Big Little Lies" (based on the novel by Liane Moriarty), which won him one of those Emmys. For his latest project, he's once again delving into the same realm of television with "The Undoing", an adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel "You Should Have Known". Will he once again find great success, or is this perhaps one of the rare times where one of his projects doesn't quite come together?
The Frasers are a seemingly normal, upper-class family living in New York City: Grace (Nicole Kidman) is a psychiatrist, her husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant) is a pediatric oncologist, and their young son Henry (Noah Jupe) attends a prestigious private school. Their world falls apart when a young woman, Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis), is murdered, and it's revealed that Jonathan had been having an affair with her. With Elena's husband having an alibi, Jonathan is named the prime suspect, looking even more guilty by fleeing from the police. After making contact with Grace, he is taken into custody, adamantly declaring his innocence, and inevitably leading to a high-profile trial that will attempt to get to the bottom of the gruesome mystery.
"The Undoing" is a rather strange little miniseries in that it does a fine job of establishing its mystery, giving you adequate twists and turns along the way, but going about it in a somewhat inefficient fashion. That is to say, the structure is what's a little unusual here, because while we do get the necessary advances in the plot every now and again, they are spaced out with odd, lengthy, meandering lulls in between, inevitably giving the series a feeling of being somewhat padded out at about five and a half hours total.
Again, the plot is rather compelling when it's actually moving forward, with excellent performances from the entire cast, including Kidman, Grant, and Donald Sutherland as Grace's father. However, it becomes difficult to shake the feeling that this could have easily been trimmed down to just three or four episodes, allowing it to flow much better, and removing the "stop and go" structure that plagues it throughout most of the six episodes, somewhat burying and suffocating the intriguing mystery that it's trying to tell.
This is alleviated slightly in the final episode, where the trial comes to a head, presenting a riveting stretch that makes you feel the verdict could go either way. Sadly, this is ironically "undone" by an ending that's rushed, obvious, and surprisingly anticlimactic. Now, considering that a mystery like this couldn't have that many different endings, and the viewer would obviously consider all of the different possibilities, anyone would inevitably come to the conclusion that there isn't really going to be one that's completely satisfying, but some would definitely be more satisfying than others. This is what makes it unfortunate that Kelley, presumably taking the ending from the book, chose to go with the ending presented here, when he should have used a little creative license to come up with something more gratifying, that is, a conclusion that wouldn't make the series end with a "thud".
On the whole, it's not a bad miniseries. There is an interesting mystery buried within it, and the cast is excellent. It just needed a little reworking to get the pacing more on track, as well as a better ending to have made it all worth it. It's uncommon of Kelley to deliver something that's just a bit subpar, but he should've realized that there were a few obvious problems embedded in his scripts, problems that ultimately make this one of his rare misfires.
"The Undoing" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.00:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. This is a very dark and moody miniseries, but every frame is remarkably sharp and clear. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is flawless, giving you every bit of dialogue and score is excellent quality. Overall, the show has been given fantastic treatment for its home release, ensuring the best possible experience in both departments.
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant Introduce The Undoing (4 Minutes): A brief conversation between Kidman and Grant about the show.
Creating The Undoing (3 Minutes): A very brief look at the show, featuring Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman, and others.
The Undoing Revelations: A series of 11 short featurettes that mostly take a look at the characters.
"The Undoing" has an intriguing mystery at its core, and a wonderful ensemble, but questionable structural choices give the series an odd "stop and go" feeling, padding it out to its lengthy runtime of 332 minutes. Coupling that with an ending that fails to satisfy, we are left with a miniseries that needed a bit of work in order to let its compelling plot and cast shine, instead of burying them both in strangely meandering material.
Available on Blu-ray/DVD starting tomorrow.
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