NINE PERFECT STRANGERS (2021) – A less than perfect retreat


Rating: ⭐⭐

When Nine Perfect Strangers starts, it reminded me immediately of The White Lotus. We have a bunch of mostly white privileged people gathering at what appears to be an exclusive wellness resort. As we get introduced to these characters, the similarities increased. We have the young couple with marital problems, the highly depressed single woman, the family with daughter in tow, and a highly dominating resort manager. However, any hopes of Nine Perfect Strangers matching the high standards set by The White Lotus soon disappear as the episodes progressed. In fact, the comparisons are really a disservice to the series as it only highlights the series’ short comings.

Nicole Kidman headlines the cast as the resort owner and manager who is from Russia and has a mysterious past. Her centre uses unorthodox methods to help their elite clients overcome their problems and to be renewed and reborn with a new sense of purpose sans problems. Other familiar faces that play the clients include Michael Shannon, Melissa McCarthy and Luke Evans. I personally really wanted to like this series and kept telling myself it would get better as I watched its 8 episodes.

But, Nine Perfect Strangers is far from perfect, as I had multiple issues with it. One of the main problem is probably with its characters. I honestly found none of them interesting or likeable enough to care. They also come across as being not very realistic people with problems that seem cliched and manipulative to the plot. The overall tone is also too serious and any attempts at humour come across as weak and forced, despite the presence of comedian Melissa McCarthy. The series just doesn’t get better as it progressed and at times I felt like abandoning the whole thing. The only thing that kept me going was the curiosity on how it would all end. I was expecting some sort of clever plot twist or twists at the end to tie up all the loose ends that would somehow vindicate all that had transpired. Alas, the series disappointed even at the end as it opted for an unlikely safe Hollywood style conclusion.

Nine Perfect Strangers is based on a 2018 novel by Liane Moriarty so has an advantage of being an original story despite some familiarity in its plot. It is directed by Jonathan Levine who is competent but doesn’t really project anything that is particularly unique. On the positive side it has some strong performances from its more than capable cast . They however were burdened by a poor script. Of the cast, Nicole Kidman stands out. She has an easy time playing a character that she is often typed-cast to, that of a mysterious beautiful and very smart, virtuous woman. I guess she thinks she is playing herself so no acting skills required to make her character come across as anything but convincing! Her heavily put on Russian accent provides some level of unintended humour in an otherwise, overly serious character.

So if you do watch Nine Perfect Strangers, watch with reservations. Who knows, you may enjoy it more than I did.

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