Nine Perfect Strangers Ep 1-3 Review: Nicole Kidman's series aims for the stars but crash-lands way too early
While Nicole Kidman is the touted "star attraction" of Nine Perfect Strangers, you're more delightfully entertained by Melissa McCarthy instead. Read Pinkvilla's review below.
Nine Perfect Strangers
Nine Perfect Strangers Cast: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale
Nine Perfect Strangers Creator: David E. Kelley
Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Nine Perfect Strangers Stars: 3/5
A star-studded cast with overflowing acting prowess and an exotic location to leave travel bugs envious; how could you go wrong? Especially, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nine Perfect Strangers couldn't have come out at a better time. A series, with its heavy emphasis on healing, should have been a therapeutic escape for lost and confused souls. Was it though? Let's find out.
Channelling her inner Osho, with her frail figure, scary blonde wig and a laughable Russian accent, we have Nicole Kidman playing mysterious wellness guru, Masha, who invites nine strangers for a 10-day retreat at the Tranquillum House. With employees Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone) as Masha's yin and yang, we're introduced to all nine strangers as the nine episodes delve out what makes them broken. While Frances (Melissa McCarthy), a best-selling novelist is struggling in both her professional and personal life, Tony is an ex-football player now addict.
The Marconis; Napolean (Michael Shannon), Heather (Asher Keddie) and daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten) are grieving the loss of a beloved family member on different wavelengths while social media influencer Jessica (Samara Weaving) and Ben (Melvin Gregg) try to mend their dwindling, monotone marriage. We also have Carmel (Regina Hall), who wishes for an extreme makeover as her husband left her for a younger woman while the cryptic Lars (Luke Evans), basically gets on everyone's nerves. What makes the delicately curated guests special is their relatability. As a viewer, you see yourself in one or more strangers as they battle their personal demons.
However, a monumental con in Nine Perfect Strangers is that you're not able to empathise with these characters for too long, because the emotional gravitas required to grip you is missing exponentially. While creator, writer and executive producer, David E. Kelley, offered two impeccable Nicole Kidman performances in Big Little Lies and The Undoing, making her the "star attraction" of Nine Perfect Strangers, this time around, the talented star is flaky at best. I'm not saying Nicole was bad because she never really is, but it wasn't an extraordinary performance that an electrifying character like Masha possesses. As only three episodes were made available for viewing, by the third episode, the intriguing aura behind who Masha really is diminished. You don't care to know about her which is a major letdown.
In fact, it was Melissa who truly entertained me, with her imbalanced personality looking for a recluse, as I anxiously waited for her scenes to appear. Along with Bobby, the quirky duo posed the crackling light-heartedness required when the script got too dark, and not in the good sense. Michael, Asher and Grace balance out the rooted indifference and immeasurable vulnerability of a heartbroken family with poise while Samara, Melvin, Luke, and especially Regina are underused at best.
Like I mentioned before, it's Nine Perfect Strangers' weak, floozy and not so "perfect" script, based on Liane Moriarty's 2018 novel of the same name, that doesn't allow the talented ensemble to shine the way we're accustomed to. The fact that a show about human emotions doesn't actually perk up our interest in the first three episodes, in spite of its therapeutic approach in storytelling, is quite nerve-wracking for the remaining six. The constant twists and turns don't feel like one and rather it feels like we're digging our own graves. You'll get this pun when you watch the series! It seems as though the series aimed more for acquiring a dream cast and less about a connecting plotline to ponder over.
As inspired and hypnotic as Yves Bélanger's cinematography and Ben Lester and David Berman's editing in Nine Perfect Strangers tries to be, what with the breakfast foods like fruits and oats being grounded viciously in a mixer personifying crumpled hearts and disoriented humans, it still fails to leave an impact. Though, like Big Little Lies and The Undoing, Marco Beltrami and Miles Hankins' score is comforting like a lullaby.
Nevertheless, a very good excuse for you to fathom through Nine Perfect Strangers is its brilliantly "perfect" cast. But if you're looking for that binge-watching etiquette, I'd give Nine Perfect Strangers a hard pass. Watch The White Lotus instead!