Nicole Kidman can’t offer a cure for wellness-Entertainment News, Firstpost

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Nine Perfect Strangers makes a superb ensemble, turning an eight-episode series that should have been a fresh, easily drinkable smoothie into a stale, chewy salad.

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Nine guests with secrets, lies, and all manner of baggage converge on a luxury resort, and find themselves unable to leave. If it was a Bunuel film, it would set the stage for a breakdown of their ivory tower ideals. If this was an Agatha Christie story, the premise would be ripe for murder, intrigue, and good training for “little gray cells.” Corn Nine Perfect Strangers is a budding prestige drama based on a lesser novel by Liane Moriarty. What we get instead are accelerated self-discoveries fueled by a diet of personalized wellness smoothies. Even when guests learn that these smoothies were fortified with LSD without their consent, they struggle to escape the force field of the charismatic founder of the resort, played by a certain Nicole Kidman.

The setting for David E. Kelley’s new series is a slice of fenced-in California paradise, fenced in to keep the poor out. So the rich can take a break from their chaotic life, cool off and rejuvenate in the yoga dome and hot springs of Tranquillum House. A host of issues – heartache, addiction, low self-esteem, and fading intimacy – come to light as guests undergo increasingly unconventional treatment practices. In addition to participating in fasting, meditation, and potato sack races, they are forced to dig their own graves to accept death, beat a mannequin with a stick to purge their anger, and search for their own food. to learn self-sufficiency.

Watching people face their inner demons in confinement and grow together, it’s hard not to sympathize, considering what we’ve all been through over the past 18 months and it matters.

In fact, the reason we see more and more stories like The white lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers has to do with the pandemic. Storytellers simply adapt to the restrictions. Confining the cast and crew in a bubble allows for controlled shooting and quick turnaround times. What did The white lotus work was how the sustained concentration of the specific vices of his characters led to conflicts with grim and comedic results. Nine Perfect Strangers attempt something similar by rolling friction with hallucinations and shared psychosis. In doing so, he spells out the various anxieties and frailties of the guests, instead of trusting the audience to understand them.

As is usually the case with a series with so many characters, the first two episodes serve as an icebreaker before the series can sink into the real drama. Families are reconciled. New friendships are formed. A little romanticism too. Each customer goes out of their comfort zone. Medication helps the process. Fish-eye lenses, image and sound distortions, and slow motion footage are used to transport the viewer into earthy psychedelia.

The cast of Nine Perfect Strangers is so stacked that the show can barely contain their individual talents when they all come together. It doesn’t matter who is paired up, the set does its best to make it work. Melissa McCarthy is Frances, a middle-aged novelist who struggles with doubt. The publisher rejected his new book. She was recently the victim of a cat fishing scheme. Comedy becomes a crutch for his insecurities, and McCarthy gives him a joke that is easy to identify with. A love-hate bond forms with her and Tony (Bobby Cannavale), a former football star trying to recover from drug addiction and come to terms with his estranged daughters.

The Marconis – Father Napoleon (Michael Shannon), wife Heather (Asher Keddie) and daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten) – form a family struggling to recover from a terrible tragedy: the suicide of Zoe’s twin brother, Zach. The three deal with the shoulda-woulda-ouldas as they go through their grief. Everyone responds differently. Napoleon wanted to get out of it, even if it meant increasing the dosage of the drug. Heather is more withdrawn. A particularly trying day arrives on Zoe’s birthday, a day that will never be the same for the family.

Some characters are quite caricatured and do not acquire the same depth as Frances or the Marconis. However, the actors try to transcend them. Like Regina Hall as Carmel, an overworked single mom who gets hysterical from minute to minute as she dies of losing her daughters to the pretty, younger wife her cheating ex-husband left her for. Or Samara Weaving as Jessica, an Instagram influencer with self-esteem issues, and Melvin Gregg as her husband Ben, who won the lottery but their rag-to-wealth story doesn’t is not a fairy tale. Bringing an element of mystery is Luke Evans as Lars, an undercover reporter claiming to be a guest to find dirt on the founder of Tranquillum House.

Speaking of which, meet Masha (Kidman). At first glance, she may appear to have reached a state of nirvana. Behind the unconvincing Russian accent, unwavering serenity and whispered wisdom, however, lies a woman who struggles to stay the course, as she has received death threats on her phone. The identity of the sender, who is one of the nine complete strangers, adds to the suspense. In the penultimate episode, we learn that Carmel is behind it all. But this confrontation is weakened by Masha’s quick act of forgiveness, after getting high on her own supply.

Nine Perfect Strangers critic Nicole Kidman can't offer a cure for wellness

Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone) oversee the treatment of guests with Masha, who are in a cult-like co-dependent relationship. Even as Masha begins to cross more and more ethical lines, Yao supports her. Delilah seems less brainwashed and eventually begins to question Masha’s methods as she begins to increase the dosage as if by instinct. The idea of ​​being abused in a spa where you go to indulge yourself is an idea ripe for horror. There are red flags everywhere. The fact that Masha chooses her guinea pigs. Guests are required to return their phones. And they have to take a blood test. But the show doesn’t really play on the false sense of security you tend to have in a place of security and renewal. By the time we exit Tranquillum House, everyone seems to have recovered from what hurt them. And they all go on with their lives. At least that’s what we are led to believe until the series offers us the possibility of another ending. That maybe all happy endings were just an invention for Frances’ next book.

To call Nine Perfect Strangers a satire of the wellness industry does too much. Because he does not really expose his methods to an exaggerated and / or humorous effect. Nor should we deny the crazy idea that the wellness industry sells health and spiritual improvement as purchasable services. That these services are sold as a kind of luxury cruise. And that they endorse pseudo-therapeutic practices with a smile and a “Namaste”, when all they really offer is an aesthetic that the rich are flouting on Instagram. No, we don’t get any thoughtful reviews of the wellness culture you’d probably expect. What we get instead is a show that forms a great whole, turning an eight-episode series that should have been a fresh, easily drinkable smoothie into a stale, chewy salad.

Watch the trailer here


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