NEW YORK &
NOSTALGIA

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f there was ever a time to indulge in pure escapism and nostalgia for times gone by, 2020 was the moment. It was a year that brought the world to a standstill in the wake of a global pandemic, with people far and wide struggling with lockdown fatigue. TV audiences yearned for life as it once was.

While the main pull at attracting viewers to psychological thriller The Undoing was undoubtedly its clever whodunnit storyline, the HBO original miniseries also managed to cleverly paint a world that not only provided a glimpse into pre-pandemic life, but also offered an exclusive look into New York’s multitudes.

The series was shot entirely in and around Manhattan and Long Island across six months in 2019, making it one of the city’s last major television shoots before the pandemic changed the world.

Director Susanne Bier carefully weaves the city into the forefront of the story. She was, according to series star Hugh Grant, the perfect person to handle this delicate tapestry.
“For a story like ours, her extremely cinematic film noir style is brilliant, especially here in New York,” he says.

While it’s a Scandi noir thriller with a massive murder mystery element to it, it’s a deeply beautiful piece of television to look at. Grant’s character Jonathan and his wife Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, live in a sprawling, decorated townhouse in the Upper East Side while their only son Henry (Noah Jupe) attends an uber elite private school. On the surface, the couple’s picture-perfect marriage seems to mirror their picture-perfect status, beautifully pressed against the backdrop of New York City’s glorious skyline.

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“It’s very cinematic,” says Kidman. “You see the city and you see New York. They shot the city like it’s a character.”

Exec producer Stephen Garrett agrees. “New York City is another character [in this story] and has a really important impact on the way this story is told,” he says.

The Undoing certainly doesn’t skimp on authentic locations in the city: Grace’s father (Donald Sutherland) owns an apartment on Fifth Avenue that becomes her sanctuary as the proceedings against her husband unfold. Indeed, when she meets her father at the Frick Collection, an art museum on the Upper East Side, the scene offers up, unintentionally of course, nostalgic memories to its audience, for whom travelling to

“It’s very cinematic,” says Kidman. “You see the city and you see New York. They shot the city like it’s a character.”

Exec producer Stephen Garrett agrees. “New York City is another character [in this story] and has a really important impact on the way this story is told,” he says.

The Undoing certainly doesn’t skimp on authentic locations in the city: Grace’s father (Donald Sutherland) owns an apartment on Fifth Avenue that becomes her sanctuary as the proceedings against her husband unfold. Indeed, when she meets her father at the Frick Collection, an art museum on the Upper East Side, the scene offers up, unintentionally of course, nostalgic memories to its audience, for whom travelling to public places without face masks and social distancing rules in place seems a thing of the past.

Bier explores the role that social stature, privilege and power plays when mixed with self-preservation.
“We had a key into this world that we can never access unless we naturally belong there,” says Bier.

The director reunited with costume designer Signe Sejlund (Bird Box, The Night Manager) who carefully put together the wardrobe. Grace’s striking and timeless coats shield her on her many wintry walks through the city as she battles her situation.

public places without face masks and social distancing rules in place seems a thing of the past.

Bier explores the role that social stature, privilege and power plays when mixed with self-preservation.
“We had a key into this world that we can never access unless we naturally belong there,” says Bier.

The director reunited with costume designer Signe Sejlund (Bird Box, The Night Manager) who carefully put together the wardrobe. Grace’s striking and timeless coats shield her on her many wintry walks through the city as she battles her situation.

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and blind privilege reveal that he can’t tolerate that he’s been caught and, above all, that the people who adored him will now forever despise him.
“The son bit is particularly hard for him,” says Grant. “Because if his boy doesn’t love him and admire him, no one does.”
Reflecting on the final scene, he adds: “Jonathan’s cornered, and his family is flying away in the helicopter. But I think the main question is, ‘Was it all a front?’ Did Jonathan really love them, or did he just love them loving him? And it’s chilly.”

Power and money accomplish results that are not available to ordinary people and the series’ final episode really hammers down on this notion. Audiences have been made aware that they’ve been seduced by a sociopath for nearly six episodes, building up to a crescendo where Jonathan feels empowered to kidnap his son and make a run for it. This final twist hits the audience like a thunderbolt.

“Because of everybody rooting for Jonathan, it needed to end in big time insanity,” says Bier.

As he speeds away with his son, narrowly missing being hit by a truck, his narcissism