Nicole Kidman & Hugh Grant Elevate ‘Cancellation’ Above Mundane Reliance On Mystery Mechanics


Cancellation bears many signature marks of a polarized thriller thriller. Agatha Christie-esque’s intellectual prowess among the possible culprits is central; Donald Sutherland’s air of superiority drifts in and out of each episode. The cat-and-mouse game between cops and their suspects enlivens the plot and influences the characters’ emotional well-being. And of course, the HBO original depends on the all-too-frequent twists and turns that work to overturn or underline all of the possibilities coexisting.

Yet, what the story lacks in narrative innovation, it makes up for in leading actors who bring nuance and complexity to their characters. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant paint the necessary three-dimensionality on their otherwise nude upper-class professionals.

Nicole Kidman et Hugh Grant de «The Undoing» | Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images pour WarnerMedia

Kidman and Grant play Grace Fraser and Sachs respectively. Fraser is a respected New York therapist, while Sachs is a pediatric oncologist. Together they have a son. Their lives begin to crumble when Sachs finds himself the prime suspect in the homicide of a young woman. The show reveals how Kidman and Grant’s characters deal with the accusations, as the latter fights for his freedom (while asserting his innocence).

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Nicole Kidman’s Grace Fraser is relatable despite her often fierce and unapproachable portrayal

Nicole Kidman’s Grace Fraser manages to handle her situation calmly whenever the cameras come out. His face remains stoic – every muscle still gripped – as his eyes travel every winding road to disaster. The character’s resilience, at first, seems overdone. However, her doubt behind closed doors, her maternal instinct, and her relationship with her father forge a relevant foundation.

Nicole Kidman can – in one scene – portray the educated and gracious woman who puts facts before feelings. In another, she carries a mother on the verge of mental breakdown – on the verge of chaos. It’s in the eyes with Kidman. It is in the subtle movements of the mouth that indicate uncertainty. It is in the pieces of silence between words that reveal a meditation for persuasion. She is wise but not omniscient. She is cautious but sometimes reckless. She is human in a somewhat superhuman capacity.

David E. Kelley’s material makes the most of Kidman; she’s comfortable in her thriller landscape, which makes it a defining moment for her career.

Hugh Grant’s Jonathan, as father and suspect, dodges every presumption he cements

In an instant, Grant’s Jonathan Sachs is an unfaithful silver fox with a divine complex. In another, he is a compassionate doctor, internalizing every death he cannot prevent. He’s a dad who wants nothing more than to be a hero to his child – he’s the fun parent of the house.

Sachs is the man who adores his wife… but not enough to remain faithful. From crying and pleading his innocence to asking Grace’s father for money to clear his personal debts, he changes his sympathy. His performance is nuanced in that he subtly sidesteps any negative assumptions about his character. Yet he never “gets away with it completely.”

Jonathan leaves viewers guessing, and Grant captures the character with precision – he never strayed too far from meanness or victimization. Rather, he walks the tightrope that exists between the two, keeping his true colors always out of reach of his arm.


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