‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ review – Jennifer Garner is as wooden as her fancy salad bowl | TV

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BHolding the rotten fruit of Big Little Lies. Ever since Reese Witherspoon’s production company turned Liane Moriarty’s novel into a gripping, compulsory TV hit series, page-turning female writers have been unable to escape miniseries adaptation. There were little fires everywhere, little beautiful things. Now there’s The Last Thing He Told Me, based on Laura Dave’s 2021 New York Times bestseller, starring Jennifer Garner (former 13 Going on 30 star and Ben Affleck) His ex-wife) plays the lead role.

Garner plays Hanna, whose dream life in the picturesque waterside community of Sausalito, California turns into a nightmare when her husband’s software startup comes under investigation by the FBI and he suddenly disappears. She is a woman in her 40s who turns into something. All that was left was a handwritten note that read “PROTECT HER.”

There’s absolutely no question that the “girlfriend” in question is Hannah’s 16-year-old stepdaughter, Bailey, but the unnecessarily vague wording doesn’t introduce an interesting plot thread. is the epitome of a favorite show and just blows it in the wind.

The point is that Hannah must solve the mystery of her husband with a hostile teenager in tow. This will hopefully lead to some sweet scenes of stepmother and stepdaughter bonding as they get to know and trust each other. But both characters are so shallowly drawn that such a scene never materializes.

Who is Hannah? It turns out that the art of woodworking, not just “woodworking,” is her passion and profession. Apparently, she makes enough fancy salad bowls to pay her bill. Not only does her house seem too expensive to buy with the lumberjack’s funds, but there are no clues about her or anyone else’s personality.

Another distinguishing characteristic of Hannah is her knack for getting past overbearing receptionists, security guards, and other people who stand between her, Bailey, and the information they seek. She does this using puppy-like persuasion or, in more ridiculous moments, disguise. Such espionage makes little sense in the context of Hannah’s backstory, but perhaps for fans of Garner’s most famous TV role, playing a CIA double agent in J. J. Abrams’ Alias. Isn’t it a kind of Easter egg?

None of these details are enough to create the illusion that we are looking at a real human being. It also doesn’t help that Garner’s performance seems limited to a narrow range of expressions from “confused” to “very confused.” Perhaps these decorative wooden bowls are a visual metaphor. Here is a woman with nothing on her smooth, expensive-looking surfaces.

The other characters are similarly underwritten and uninteresting, sometimes to the point of being insulting. We’re supposed to believe that Hannah’s best friend Jules (Aisha Tyler) is Bailey’s best friend. However, Bailey is a typically listless and isolated teenager who still resents Hannah’s intrusion into her close-knit father-daughter family bond 14 months ago. Why and when do we think Bailey and Jules became close?

Perhaps the most interesting characters in this series are, not coincidentally, the ones that are absent. Hannah’s missing husband Owen (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) appears mostly in flashbacks, but he is allowed to exist in the present as a sort of “Schrödinger’s husband.” Affleck, GoT’s Jaime Lannister and Ben, both devoted and despicable at the same time. This is the show’s pipeline into the well of angst that powers all these Big Little Lights, airport thriller adaptations targeting women in wealthy couples. “Who is this stranger I married? Is he going to try to kill me? Even if he did, would I still like him?”

But again, the writing gets in the way on its own. The narrative suspense surrounding Owen’s latent sociopathy quickly evaporates under the steady, benign gaze of his devoted wife. Hannah doesn’t doubt him for a second and tells Bayley:

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so what do Does The Last Thing He Told Me have any entertainment potential? Hmm… There’s a nice nosy around a bohemian houseboat in Sausalito. A short extended tour of downtown Austin that also includes the bike trails and bats on the Congress Avenue Bridge. Will that suffice? That’s what you need to do.

“The Last Thing He Told Me” is available on Apple TV+

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