NINE PERFECT STRANGERS – Review by Susan Granger
When production in Australia began on this new Hulu series, Nicole Kidman refused to meet the rest of the cast until she was in character as beatific Masha Dmitrichenko, the mysteriously serene leader of a holistic wellness center who uses questionable treatments and experimental practices on her clients.
“We were all waiting for her arrival and entrance,” Regina Hall, who plays Carmel Schneider, an anguished housewife whose husband left her for a younger woman, told Variety. “Suddenly, there she was – with this Russian accent – and I actually did not hear what she actually sounded like until we wrapped.”
Adapted by David E. Kelley and John-Henry Butterworth from Liane Moriarty’s 2018 novel, it’s the most-watched Hulu Original ever.
The story begins with nine people arriving for a 10-day retreat at a Northern California retreat called Tranquillum House, run by enigmatic Masha with her two assistants: Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone). During their stay at her resort, Masha promises to heal and transform her guests.
Slurping Masha’s individually prepared, psychedelic smoothies are the tormented Marconi family includes Napoleon (Michael Shannon), his wife Heather (Asher Keddie) and their grown daughter Zoe (Grace Ban Patten); they’re working through grief after the tragic death of Zoe’s twin brother, Zach (Hal Cumpston).
The ensemble includes social media ‘influencer’ Jessica (Sandra Weaving) and her wealthy lottery-winning husband Ben Chandler (Melvin Gregg) who seek marriage counseling, while best-selling author Frances Welly (Melissa McCarthy), cranky former football star Tony Hogburn (Bobby Cannavale), and cellphone-connected Lars Lee (Luke Evans) struggle with their own individual issues.
Melissa McCarthy’s real-life husband Ben Falcone plays Paul Drabble, the grifter who ‘ cruelly catfished’ Frances and left her heartbroken.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nine Perfect Strangers” is a slyly cryptic, slightly sinister 7, streaming on Hulu.