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Review: HBO's 'The Undoing' is a high-end whodunit

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant star in a moody, meandering Manhattan murder mystery

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

“The Undoing” is somewhat undone by its dawdling pace. In truth this is a movie’s worth of story dragged out over six slow hours.

Then again, there’s a wealth-porn factor here, and time lets an audience luxuriate in the show’s high society indulgences — ornate art-filled rooms, impeccably manicured people, drivers and doormen, Manhattan ballet classes, top-end charity auctions. The parade of costly coats Nicole Kidman wears while walking the streets of New York may be enough for some viewers.

Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman in "The Undoing."

Kidman stars as Grace Fraser, high-born daughter of Franklin Reinhardt (Donald Sutherland), who is apparently so rich we don’t even need to know how he got that way. Grace, herself a therapist, is married to pediatric oncologist Jonathan (Hugh Grant) and they have an adolescent son, Henry (Noah Jupe), who goes to a posh private school.

They’re all very happy until suddenly they’re not. With a title like “The Undoing” you’ve got to figure something’s going to come undone and it does. That this undoing follows some spectacular nudity and ends in a grisly murder that mixes upper and lower economic types lets you know you’re watching HBO.

Thus “The Undoing” becomes a very well-tailored whodunit, each episode ending in a reveal of some sort to keep you guessing. Is the killer the wife, the husband, the kid, the father, the maid in the drawing room with a candlestick? It’s all efficient enough but hardly inventive or enthralling.

“The Undoing” comes from the productive (stretched?) David E. Kelley, who also did “Big Little Lies” for HBO and many of the notes — Kidman, rich white folks in trouble — are similar. But “Lies” had a much wider range of characters. With this… well, hope you like those coats.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.

'The Undoing'

GRADE: C+

9 p.m. Sunday

HBO