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“Cancellation” or good cinema in the world of series

Do we love or hate Nicole Kidman’s green coat? Do we like its icy radiance? What do we think about the plastic surgery she trusted? How do we comment on this incredible period in Hugh Grant’s career?

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

About “Cancellation” (“TheUndoing“, 2020) many questions arise. That’s why the miniseries provoked so much public discussion and speculation as to what finale director Susanne Bier gave it. All the questions stem from a central search for the drama genre: who did it and why, what were the forces that provoked him to do it (the crime).

“Dream A Little Dream of Me” is heard at the beginning of each series, a song for 90 years, with many covers, the most famous of which is the quartet Mamas & Papas, and now, performed by the unimaginable Nicole Kidman. It is about innocence and lightness in love. In “Cancellation,” however, this song takes on a different meaning. “Dream a little dream for me” it means nothing but “I am not who you think I am. I’m completely different. “

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

The series is based on the novel by Jean Hanf Korelitz “You should have known” (or “You should have known”). In the world of a wealthy family – pediatric oncologist Jonathan Sachs (Hugh Grant), his wife, psychotherapist Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) and their son Henry Sachs (Noah Jupp), a brutal murder takes place. That’s when Jonathan disappears, leaving his phone at home. Grace’s glamorous world is shaken when she learns that her husband had an affair with the mother of his patient (a child) and that she was the victim of the brutal murder (14 blows to the head with a hammer). Jonathan (Hugh Grant) was with the victim that night and had sex with her. In the fifth episode, we learn that the list of suspects also includes the child Henry, in whose violin case Grace finds a hammer, the same as from the murder. Grace’s close friend Sylvia actively appears in the story, actively convincing her that her husband is the killer, as well as her father, Franklin Reinhardt (Donald Sutherland), who never liked Jonathan and is also convinced of his guilt.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

Thus, everything seems clear, but it is not at all – especially with the accumulation of each subsequent series on the viewer, in whom doubts about the various possible options for the motives of the potential perpetrator constantly jump into each other. Here we find logic, here it quickly evaporates and we start anew.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

The great Susanne Bier has created an exceptional atmosphere in the image of the ideal family, comfort and coziness, relationships and upholstered cracks that slowly tear the velvet facade.

As we watch the six episodes of the miniseries, we try to understand why and how – the two main questions of the undeniably successful form of “who did it?”.

Director Susanne Bier during the filming of the miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

At first, all the clues lead to Jonathan, but gradually we hesitate and see that Grace is a strange lunatic who walks anxiously and coldly in gloomy New York. Her cheekbones do not move, which can be attributed to the excess dose of Botox that the actress used. Perhaps.

Magnificent in her witchcraft beauty, in this miniseries Kidman returns to her character in Stanley Kubrick’s Wide-Eyed, where she also played a graceful wealthy wife. Unfortunately, however, her mysterious Celtic wild beauty is distorted by the way she has fought the scars of old age, invariably a difficult problem for an actress who wants to play still good roles – a beautiful and attractive woman, not just of a mother of many children or a bored housewife.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

Grace (Nicole Kidman) is a Harvard graduate with a doctorate in clinical psychology and has not realized for 20 years that she lives with a sociopath who allowed his little sister to be killed and has never suffered or grieved from the incident.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

Hugh Grant, on the other hand, is in the maturity of his acting career and seems to be in its heyday. Here he makes an incredibly good and complex role in which he changes. He is both the former Hugh we know, but he is not. Here he reminds us of the image of the shy Romeo from “Truly Love” or “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, romantic and tender with an attractive British accent, here over this Romeo hangs a gloomy a shadow that has a mystery that has not yet been decoded correctly.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

Here is Susanne Bier using it in the smartest way possible. Hugh Grant and his shy winks and expressions in the films we are used to seeing now show the dark side of this face with which we perceived him.

In an interview with NewYorkTimes the British actor says that he himself already wanted to leave the typical romantic roles.

“I feel more comfortable playing a character who is far from my previous versions. This was a topic we also discussed with Susanne Bier – she wanted me to play both the previous and the current Hugh Grant – the changing one. In part of the miniseries we see the typical Hugh, but then he becomes different. That was a very clever decision of hers. She said to herself, “How funny this guy can be. People will say: No, the killer can’t be the boy from Notting Hill or Really Love. He couldn’t swing a hammer in someone’s face 14 times. “

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

The miniseries throw us into the deep mystery of man – what part of him we know, what image we build and the whole wall of delusions, which at one point is dismantled to see the Other.

In The Cancellation, as in Edgar Allan Poe’s Morgue Street Murders, we want to know who did something that pierced us — a spectacular event, a murder theater, a spectacle. It is in all of us. And then the question arises, what is the solution to this problem, although imaginary, we are looking for the answer to the mystery.

“Cancellation” has become a hit series with millions of views around the world precisely because of its impact in the segment of the seven days in which we are waiting for the next episode. The viewer’s interest does not go away, on the contrary – he is gaining speed and is looking forward to the climax.

Footage from the HBO miniseries “Cancellation” (Photo: HBO)

This can only work if the product is good enough. And “Cancellation” turned out to be like this: a movie in the form of a TV series. The risky move of running one series once a week, instead of pouring the content all at once, is also a nice approach, confirming only the qualities of the film. This move gave us the opportunity to analyze, to think, to be aware of the detail. And most of all to feel the strong psychological pulse of the film, shot through the good acting and the great camera of Anthony Dot Mantle, the cameraman of the films “Antichrist” and “Dogville” by Danish director Lars von Trier.