The strategy of transforming best sellers into successful films or series is part of Reese Witherspoon‘s secret, be it the feature Wild (starring herself), the two seasons of Big Little Lies, Daisy Jones and the Six and, now, The Last Thing He Told Me, which just premiered on Apple TV Plus. With the exception of Daisy Jones, they are generally suspense novels, with strong female characters and a secret that interferes in their lives.
Written by Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me was a huge hit during the pandemic and was announced even before it hit bookstores as an upcoming Julia Roberts project. The series released two episodes on Friday, to a lukewarm reception from critics, without Julia in the cast and being replaced by Jenniffer Garner, who is not exactly “the problem” of the series.
The premise is relatively simple: a woman (Garner) is surprised by the sudden disappearance of her husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and not only has to take care of her troubled sixteen-year-old stepdaughter (Angourie Rice) but also search for the truth about her husband.
What happens with The Last Thing He Told Me is the exhaustion of the theme of a woman seeing a dream life turned into a nightmare. Even more so using the idyllic scenery of Northern California as a backdrop. We already “know” this heroine, and we are confident in her strength to overcome the drama, but we have to swallow the initial surprise and engage ourselves to accompany her in the discovery and it is precisely where the first two episodes “fail”. We are with Owen for a few seconds, and we discover that he and Hannah have only been together for 14 months so when he disappears the only question is why he leaves her responsible for the stepdaughter who hates her.
Hannah is an artist who met Owen and moved from Texas to California with a sudden passion. She has a natural talent for investigation and keeping up appearances, curious for a woman exposed to so much at once. Jennifer has charisma, but there’s no chemistry between her and Nikolaj and no connection between her and Angourice, once again the troubled teen on call (as she did in Mare of Easttown).
For those who want spoilers, here you go. Owen is actually Ethan, the key witness in a lawsuit against dangerous drug dealers whose protection the FBI was unable to secure. So, on his own, he assumed a new identity and the safety of his daughter. Hannah and Bailey will establish a relationship of mutual trust and it is Hannah personally who will be able to negotiate the young woman’s freedom and safety to move on with her life. Owen/Ethan, however, will not be able to return to their lives. It is noticed that every turnaround will be as shallow as the story’s proposal. Jennifer Garner could work with a better foundation, but she won’t compromise. Do you have time to occupy yourself with more content? You won’t die if you do without this…