Two of the leading actresses of Big Little Lies They have released their own series this year, hoping to repeat the success that this now classic production of HBO. Reese whiterspoon in spring, with Little Fires Everywhere to Amazon; and, very recently, Nicole Kidman with The Undoing for HBO. With the foundations of a successful novel, luxury adaptations are made that seek to make their protagonists shine with those slips that the world of cinema no longer offers them. In them, we are told stories of strong, charismatic women and, if they have secrets, much better. The problem is that, when one aspires to excellence, when the expectations that had been generated are not met, they are exposed to public derision.
The Undoing has been beaten throughout these two weeks by critics after the broadcast of the last episode. And that despite the fact that those who crush it now, had previously elevated it as one of the most anticipated titles of the year. The omelette has been turned over and they position it as one of the biggest disappointments. A thrashing from which Little Fires Everywhere has come out much better, although perhaps having premiered on another platform like Amazon has been able to help it. They have not stoned her, but neither has she been overly enthusiastic.
In The Undoing, Nicole Kidman plays a Prestigious psychiatrist in New York whose perfect life seems to fall apart when her husband disappears and there is a brutal murder of which he appears to be the culprit. The role of the suspicious husband embodies it Hugh grant, that actor that in the nineties he was the prototype of the romantic comedy heartthrob and that in recent years he has been recycled into increasingly darker roles, such as this one. The plot has a certain flavor of Alfred Hitchcock. Are we facing a false guilty or a false innocent? Each episode closes with an unexpected twist that encourages one to return the following week. Until the last chapter arrives and the story must end. No cliffhangers, no loose ends. All this crowned with a final chase worthy of an after-dinner telefilm. And at the risk of spoiling it, the feeling that the end of the journey gives is that we have returned to the beginning again. The title of the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitzen On which the story was based, maybe it was much more expressive and, in itself, quite a spoiler: You already knew that.
The series had a luxurious cast, such as the veteran Donald Sutherland, Lily Rabe one of the muses of Ryan murphy, or Noma Dumezweni, in the role of the defense attorney, who is one of the best supporting characters. Undoing would have fared much better portraying New York elites and the upheaval that murder causes in them, rather than playing the mystery card. It might not be perfect, but it wasn’t that bad either. Surely many, when they saw the veteran as a producer David E. Kelley Together with Nicole Kidman sponsoring the project, they thought we had another Big Little Lies on our hands. So confident were they in the benefits of their product, that those responsible for HBO decided to delay its premiere scheduled for spring until fall because of the pandemic. The fallow has not helped, but rather has done the opposite.
A few months before, another of the protagonists, Reese Whiterspoon, had already tried to repeat the formula. Little Fires Everywhere offers us an interpretive duel between this actress and Kerry Washington. There is no doubt that those moments are the best of the series. Maybe sometimes they go back emotionally charged, but there is no denying how intense they are. In Celeste NG’s adaptation of the book, the peaceful Monterey Californian town of Big Little Lies is transformed into a wealthy Ohio suburb where the lives of its residents are literally turned upside down with the arrival of a new neighbor of color in the community. Almost as much as Nicole Kidman’s in The Undoing when she discovers that her husband may be a murderer. The miniseries is basically the story of the confrontation between two women who have had to make sacrifices in their personal lives because of their motherhood and they can’t stand each other, because one sees in the other everything that she had to give up after her pregnancy. In the middle is (of course) that one is upper class and another is not, as well as the question of race. As the plot progresses, the masks are removed and the formalities and false courtesies between these two women are abandoned, to go on telling each other clearly and in the most stark way possible what they really feel for each other.
The small fires everywhere that the title of the miniseries alludes to are all those initially small problems that are going to corner their protagonist as they grow older and that will crumble the foundations of their way of life. Especially when they explode simultaneously. A purifying fire from which to be reborn from the ashes and start over. In the end, Kerry Washington’s role is going to be more like the Max cady in either of the two versions of The Cape of Fear, although it cannot be said that she is the villain of the story. Quite the opposite. It’s supposed to have a closed ending, but I see enough loose ends in the final episode for us to have new installments.
The two series have tried to take advantage of the pull that Big Little Lies had to try to repeat the formula again. Nor have they been the first to try. To begin with, one of the first to do so was his director, the filmmaker Jean Marc Vallée, when a year after the premiere he launched a new series for HBO, Open Wounds. Again another story of women, starring Amy adams, based on a bestselling book. The tone was much darker than that of its predecessor and the bitterness of its protagonist was not a dish to the taste of all palates. Also Big Little Lies herself wanted to try it with a second season that played the trick of incorporating Meryl streep to the cast, even though it was initially a miniseries with a closed ending. The sequel did not convince either. This time the filmmaker was not on the boat and the chosen director, Andrea Arnold, assured that he lost creative control of the series and the material was edited without his consent. The conclusion for many was that perhaps everything would have been better as it was.
Nor can one speak of absolute failures. A few weeks ago Nicole Kidman herself opened the box of thunder when she revealed that a third installment was already in the works. And Reese Whitherspoon continues in her role as producer and protagonist of her own projects with a new series in which she has managed to embark on Julia Roberts for Apple TV and, again. based on a hit novel, The Last Thing He Tolds Me (The last thing he told me) by Laura dave. Will they be able to break the curse? Although this last project is more like the other series that the actress produced for this platform and that brought us back to the Jennifer Aniston from Friends, The Morning Show. Maybe the secret was to do something new.