CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the climax of The Undoing
This was glossy TV to die for! Don’t worry – we’re not giving away last night’s thrilling finale. But we can unmask what made it killer viewing, as CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the climax of The Undoing
Sky Atlantic, last night
Did you guess it? There seemed to be as many possible solutions to this nationwide game of Cluedo as there were characters.
No need to give it away, for those waiting to watch on catch-up. In any case, the identity of the murderer is almost incidental.
Was it Doctor Tuxedo, with the hammer, in the artist’s studio? Was it young Master Tuxedo, with the violin case, in a teenage tantrum?
Was it the billionaire Colonel Fowl-Temper, with a dirty look, in that penthouse overlooking Trump Tower and the Empire State Building?
Right up to the last minutes of The Undoing, I was convinced the killer was Mrs Botox, with the wooden dialogue, in the electric green coat.
Despite the terrific cast in this six-part thriller, which co-starred Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland and Sofie Grabol, it was Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe that proved the real headliner
In fact, psychotherapist Grace (Nicole Kidman) wore a sheer, ruched mauve blouse as she took the witness stand in a stunning twist to the tale.
Then she stalked from the courtroom, sliding a long purple overcoat around her shoulders as she went.
This was apt, for despite the terrific cast in this six-part thriller, which co-starred Donald Sutherland and Sofie Grabol, it was Miss Kidman’s wardrobe that proved the real headliner.
That iridescent lizard-green coat with its hood, her bloody crimson silk shirt, her pleated metallic satin party gown that seemed to move like smoke – the storyline was hackneyed but the clothes were out of this world.
Anyone tuning in to the finale for more killer couture was rewarded with a pink lambswool sweater that became grey when she walked, and finally – as Grace rode in a helicopter, looking like a shiny-faced marionette from Thunderbirds with headphones and a microphone – a long green dress that would not be out of place on an Amish farm.
These colours were heightened by digital editing that turned the TV screen into a swirling palette.
Pictured: The victim Elena Alves played by Matilda De Angelis in TV programme the Undoing
Just as students used to smoke dope to watch episodes of Teletubbies and giggle themselves silly at the bright colours, it’s possible that old hippies could get high just by turning down the sound on The Undoing and staring at the kaleidoscopic clothes.
Viewers who could not wait to discover the denouement were teased with two-page newspaper ads yesterday morning that promised to reveal the killer’s identity. All we had to do was join the 460 dots.
It took four hours, and I confess I had some help. At the end, the page was a squiggle of red Biro ink that might have been a lop-sided portrait of one of the characters – or it might have been a tasteless approximation of the crime scene, with the battered victim in a pool of blood.
Either way, we had our answer. It was Picasso wot dunnit.
I’d love to know whether novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz was one of those who patiently completed the puzzle.
The drama was based on her book, You Should Have Known, which focuses much more on the psychology of Grace’s marriage to Jonathan.
Her culprit is clear from the start, but this adaptation promised to change everything… and even Korelitz was not told how it would end.
Pictured: Sofie Grabol as prosecution lawyer Sylvia in Sky Atlantic TV Programme the Undoing
We were left suspecting everyone. Donald Sutherland, as Grace’s embittered father Franklin, seethed with such dislike for his son-in-law that no crime, however violent and pointless, seemed beyond him. He paid Jonathan’s bail, keeping him out of prison just so he could see him suffer.
One scene saw Franklin leap from his seat at a grand piano, arms reaching out to strangle Jonathan (Hugh Grant), only to be held back by Grace and Jonathan’s lawyer (Noma Dumezweni).
Minutes later, he was comforting Grace as they stared across New York while a thunder- storm exploded.
Grand pianos and lightning strikes… this was Gothic melodrama for the 21st century. The story was so wildly exaggerated by this stage that it seemed possible the victim, artist Elena (Matilda De Angelis), had beaten herself to death, perhaps in a messy sculpting accident.
Everything pointed, after the discovery of the apparent murder weapon, to young Henry, Grace’s beloved son.
Henry, played by Noah Jupe, claimed that he found the damning evidence while playing a game of ball by himself at his grandfather’s house. Upset by the sight of blood all over it, he put it in the dishwasher.
Twice. But we were overlooking Grace’s best friend Sylvia (Lily Rabe), she of the forked tongue and the suspiciously perfect lifestyle.
Sylvia made sure she bumped into prosecution lawyer Catherine (Sofie Grabol) in the courtroom toilets, and caught her off guard – the poor woman couldn’t remember if she was Danish or American, and so she was doing both accents, generally in the same sentence.
Sylvia and Grace went plotting in Central Park. We watched them from a distance, too far to hear what they were saying, though their anguished body language gave plenty away.
They looked like a female version of Prince Andrew and his dear pal Jeffrey Epstein, photographed in that very park saying their sad farewells.
This finale was a farewell too. There’s surely no room for a sequel after that conclusion. But perhaps the green coat with a hood will get its own spin-off series.
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