“Nine Perfect Strangers” – Between Therapy and Charlatanism [Review]

Nine Perfect Strangers


Title: “Nine Perfect Strangers”

Release Date: 2021

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Samara Weaving, Regina Hall, Michael Shannon, Bobby Cannavale, Manny Jacinto, Asher Keddie


I watched the series “Nine Perfect Strangers” with real pleasure. Great cast, interesting plot and authentic emotions – these are the main strengths of the production available on Amazon. The title characters are a group of people who, for various reasons, decide to attend a development workshop at a luxury spa. It sounds familiar – after all, the search for life work balance and taking care of psychophysical well-being are concepts well known from coaching language, which often become the object of jokes. Interestingly, the creators of the series also keep an unabashedly ironic distance from them. However, the suspenseful curiosity as to whether the charismatic owner of the center, Masha, is a mere swindler or an extraordinarily talented mentor, makes the viewer stay in front of the screen until the last episode. And it’s worth it, if only for Nicole Kidman herself, who proves once again that she is a great actress.

“Nine Perfect Strangers” – in pursuit of happiness

“Nine Perfect Strangers” is a series by creators who already have a lot of scripted successes to their credit. David E. Kelly became famous for his work on “Big Little Lies” and John-Henry Butterworth “Le Mans’66”, among others. The production is based on the novel by Liane Moriarty for the Hulu platform.The themes of the series are in line with the recently popular theme of the wealthy socialite, who hides the darkest secrets under the appearance of an ideal life. So here we have nine title characters, experiencing serious crises in their private lives and seeking a remedy for their problems. They all hold out hope that the remedy for their troubles will turn out to be a luxurious spa run by a certain Masha, where they expect to find rest, inspiration and perhaps even discover the meaning of life.

Tranquillum differs significantly from other places of this type, as a dizzying sum of money for a few days’ stay at the resort is not enough to become its resident. This is because the owner herself carries out the selection of potential guests, and once she invites them to stay with her, she demands total obedience, necessary for the success of the therapy. Clients must therefore completely give up contact with the outside world, surrender their cell phones, medications, alcohol and other personal belongings. Each has an individual diet designed on the basis of laboratory tests, and participates daily in rituals specially prepared by Masha.

Nine Perfect Strangers series review

The guests are initially very skeptical of the therapist’s methods, just wanting a break from their daily lives, but over time they begin to experience the astonishing effects of her work. Is Masha just a skilled con artist conning people out of money, or can she really change their lives? This is the basic question that keeps you from abandoning the series until the last minute.

“Nine Perfect Strangers” – a gallery of peculiarities

I think that “Nine Perfect Strangers” is a series that does a great job, first of all, on the level of character building. After all, we have here a whole gallery of peculiarities: from Francis, a well-known writer who is experiencing a decline in popularity (played by Melissa McCarthy), to an ex-athlete (Bobby Cannavale) broken by addiction, to an influencer Jessica (Samara Weaving) unable to live without her phone. Alongside the celebrities are ordinary people: a family trying to cope with the death of their teenage son, or Carmel (Regina Hall), a woman recovering from being abandoned by her husband. Each of these characters has a distinct personality, history and style. Each is interesting and memorable. And, more importantly, they are well-written characters, because they are believable – in which, of course, a lot of credit also goes to the actors, among whom the Melissa McCarthy – Bobby Cannavale pair really shines – with humor and mutual chemistry.

However, the saying that there can be only one queen applies perfectly in the case of the series “Nine Perfect Strangers.” In my opinion, she is Nicole Kidman, who once again in recent years (enough to mention “Big Little Lies” and “The Undoing”) proves that she can play a complex, deep role. Her character almost shimmers with the entire palette of colors and emotions she arouses: from skepticism, rebellion and fear to curiosity and, finally, admiration and compassion. Masha is a role almost made for Kidman – her feminine charm and delicacy, but also strength and determination. Who is this woman? A charlatan or a healer? A con artist, a dangerous criminal or perhaps a therapist gifted with supernatural talents?

Nine Perfect Strangers Hulu

The series “Nine Perfect Strangers” and the fashion for therapy

Watching the series, I couldn’t help thinking that just such an idea for Kidman’s role was not accidental. After all, her character embodies many tendencies and currents of today’s extremely syncretic knowledge of self-development and healthy living. Here we find elements of rational nutrition, gymnastics, meditation, working with repressed traumas – in a word, everything that runs through many popular publications and trainings of thought. Is this sound knowledge or just a way to cash in on other people’s problems? “Nine Perfect Strangers” does not escape these doubts at all and introduces a detached and at times ironic look at these practices. Perhaps, however, the most important question boils down not so much to the criterion of truth as to effectiveness. For the crux turns out to be what can really help us and whether we are ready to reach for that help.