Nine Perfect Strangers – psychedelically induced, psychological drama, with Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy
Nine Perfect Strangers, starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy is based on the 2018 novel by Australian author Liane Moriarty, and directed and produced by Jonathan Levine. The series tells the story of nine stressed city dwellers who try to get on a path to a better way of living at a boutique health-and-wellness resort. Watching over them during this ten-day retreat is the resort’s director Masha (Kidman), a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.
Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can? It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.
Nicole Kidman is a powerhouse in this series. Continuing onward after her amazing performance in The Undoing, she returns even more dramatic. Similar to The Undoing, this is binge-worthy for no other reason than you can’t predict what’s coming next. The story becomes darker as the episodes go on. Each character is in the process of letting go of past feelings – suicide, the concept of what a man is, the unreality of social media, relationships, and more.
Upon entering the retreat, the guests are asked for all phones or other technology, eliminating any contact with the outside world. They also must not have any prescription drugs or alcohol, most likely because after a few days each of them are unwillingly microdosed with mushrooms without consent, with dosages being increased each day. This causes abrupt changes, emotions come out, the past resurfaces, and some of the guests begin to figure out something is up. But is it helpful? harmful? or healing? Are they tripping out, and hallucinating, or is it real?
The story hints at the fact that Nicole’s character was shot and killed, and a previous guest died of unknown causes. The staff at the retreat also appear to be under her spell, and her command, or is it her aura? The premise is that all of us are damaged by other humans, and we need to go deep within ourselves to figure out what that damage has caused.
The subject matter of using mushrooms as a form of healing psilocybin therapy drug is quite topical and controversial at the moment, both here in Canada, and the United States. It’s worth watching for that concept alone. It did have me humming along to The Eagles song, Hotel California, a couple times – “You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave”
Filmed on location in Australia, this is the first project Kidman and McCarthy worked on together as Executive Producers, alongside other cast members Luke Evans, Tiffany Boone, Bobby Cannavale, Melvin Gregg, Regina Hall, Manny Jacinto, Asher Keddie, Michael Shannon, Grace Van Patten and Samara Weaving.
Fans of Kidman will be happy to know that she’s got a few other projects in the works as well. She will star in the Amazon Prime Video thriller miniseries Pretty Things, based on the upcoming novel of the same name by Janelle Brown, as well as the Amazon Prime Video family drama series Things I Know To Be True based on the Australian play of the same name. Unlike Nine Perfect Strangers and Pretty Things, Things I Know To Be True is envisioned as an ongoing series with multiple seasons rather than a miniseries.
In preparation for Nine Perfect Strangers, you can grab a copy of the novel it’s based on here.
Available on Hulu
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.