United Kingdom

Viewers loved The Undoing...but Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman's glossy thriller divided the critics

If viewers were glued to their screens watching the final installment of The Undoing, with one calling it 'the best programme I've watched during lockdown', then the professional critics were a little harder to please.  

Fans of the HBO series - which oscillated between a rom-com and a psychological nail-biter - lapped up Monday's final episode, and were quickly begging for a follow-up on social media. 

However, the show seemed to divide the professional reviewers, with some offering withering accounts of David E Kelley and Susanne Bier's six-parter. 

The series saw paediatric oncologist Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant) and his wife Grace (Nicole Kidman) still fighting to clear his name following the death of Elena (Matilda De Angelis), with UK viewers finally made privy to who the real killer was.  

The HB0 series reached its climax on Sky Atlantic in the UK on Monday evening...and while many viewers loved the whodunit, professional critics gave the show shorter shrift (Pictured: the show's lead characters, Grace Skewer (Nicole Kidman) and Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant)

Ouch: the pro critics weren't impressed with the way the show wrapped up, with Independent critic Eamon de Paor offering up just two stars

Twists and turns: The victim Elena Alves played by Matilda De Angelis in The Undoing

After it aired on Sky Atlantic, The Times led the plaudits, with reviewer Carol Midgley giving the episode five stars, saying 'seeing the rich and privileged wreck their lives in a great script has been perfect lockdown fodder'...although she offered that the final episode was a 'slight anti-climax'.

The Telegraph's reviewer, Anita Singh, appreciated the twists and turns, saying: 'The Undoing won't win any prizes for its plausibility. But it kept us guessing until the end'.

While the Mail's Christopher Stevens approved of the fact that everyone ended up a suspect in this particular whodunit, and gave the show four out of five stars, many of his peers didn't quite feel the same. 

New twist! Episode six kicked off where five left off, as Grace and Henry (Noah Jupe - pictured) stare at each other intently as they realize the gravity of what she has discovered

The stellar cast didn't hold much weight with the Guardian's Lucy Mangan, who said the show was 'a disappointing dud befitting these times' and what started out 'slick' simply became 'silly.

Meanwhile Eamon de Paor at the Independent called the show 'an absurd little game of cat and mouse' and scored it a pitiful two out of five stars.

Viewers have been waiting with bated breath to discover who killed Elena Alves. 

As the HBO drama came to a close, it was finally revealed who murdered Elena after Grant's shifty Jonathan Fraser had originally been was arrested for the crime.

A major cliffhanger at the end of episode five left viewers once again questioning the culprit, after Grace (Nicole Kidman) discovered a mallet - the potential murder weapon - hidden in a violin case in her son Henry's bedroom.   

On Twitter, there was mountains of praise for the show from ordinary viewers though, with particular kudos to Grant for his performance as Fraser.

The Telegraph's reviewer Anita Singh appreciated the twists and turns, saying: 'The Undoing won't win any prizes for its plausibility. But it kept us guessing until the end'

Hard hitting: Grace reverses her decision to not testify in Jonathan's murder trial, and offers snippets of information that help the prosecution nail down her husband. The Times critic, Carol Migdley, said 'seeing the rich and privileged wreck their lives in a great script has been perfect lockdown fodder'

One fan wrote: 'The undoing was exceptional top tier telly. Grant magnificent.'

Another gushed that it was the 'best series I've seen in a long time', which one fan agreed with as they wrote: 'best programme I've watched all lockdown.'

Tagging the Notting Hill star in their tweet, one person wrote: 'You were brilliant in the "Undoing"... bravo! Shame the series is finished now.'

Praising his acting skills, another joked: 'Is it time to watch "Love Actually" again..... After watching The Undoing, I'm not sure I can look at Hugh Grant in quite the same cute way as I used to.'  

However, some viewers agreed with the critics, saying they felt like they'd wasted their time with the show as the reveal was too 'cliche' for their liking.

One declared: 'wish i could undo the last few weeks of watching The Undoing. lmao what an awful ending.'

Another added: 'The Undoing, a disappointing derivative and cliched ending, wasting all the careful set up.'

While one viewer said: 'Feel like I wasted 6 Monday nights watching The Undoing!! So disappointed with how it ended expected so much better! (sic).'

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 

 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?

In the line of fire? Fernando Alves (Ismael Cruz Córdova - pictured) was a secondary suspect

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.

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.

Expected? In the end, Jonathan was unmasked as the killer, despite mounting evidence in previous episodes that someone had framed him

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.

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.

Drama: The Undoing left UK viewers with mixed feelings on Monday as some praised it as 'top tier TV' while others claimed it was a 'waste of time' after it was revealed who killed Elena Alves

Her culprit is clear from the start, but this adaptation promised to change everything... and even Korelitz was not told how it would end.

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.

Pictured: Sofie Grabol as prosecution lawyer Sylvia in Sky Atlantic TV Programme the Undoing

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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