Spoilers would recommend professional help instead.

I must be honest. The idea of isolation from the civilized world with a group of strangers is not a particularly alluring premise. I was expecting a little more comedy, perhaps some sort of murder mystery but all in all I did warm up to the idea of a film about improving one’s own mental health. Unfortunately there’s quite an amount of disregard for personal safety and of course wild assumptions about how treatment and recovery work. I know it’s just a movie for entertainment purposes, and movies rarely hit the mark on mental illness. Perhaps it will spark some healthy dialog on what it got wrong.

(Credit: Hulu)

Nine Perfect Strangers (2021) was created by John-Henry Butterworth and David E. Kelley. It was directed by Jonathan Levine. The titular strangers are a Frances Welty (Melissa McCarthy), Napoleon Marconi (Michael Shannon) with his wife Heather (Asher Keddie) and daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten), Lars Lee (Luke Evans), Ben Chandler (Melvin Gregg) and wife Jessica (Samara Weaving), Tony Hogburn (Bobby Cannavale) and Carmel Schneider (Regina Hall). They will be arriving at the retreat run by the enigmatic Masha (Nicole Kidman) with the assistance of Delilah (Tiffany Boone), Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Glory (Zoe Terakes).

There’s a bit of comedy in it, but basically this becomes a full on drama quick enough. To its credit, most of the characters are engaging enough and somewhat relatable. Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale have a good antagonistic chemistry to start with, which already tells you where this is going. Nicole Kidman initially shines as the mysterious charismatic guru Masha, and Tiffany Boone is great as Delilah. However, at some point it does seem like the story become chaotic. Revelations are made, the focus moves toward Masha and the resolution feels forced.

Can’t quite recommend it. Perhaps save it for a rainy day when you’ve run out of options. There are good things in it, but at some point I felt the story no longer cared about the fate of our characters and focused on Masha almost exclusively. Nicole Kidman does play a great role, and I found caring a lot for Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Boone’s characters. However, tying everything up in a bow at the end as if no consequences came out of the random actions taken doesn’t really do the characters complete justice. Of course you can attribute a lot of the ending to pure hallucination, and there’s grounds for that, but I’d still like to have had a hint of a conclusion for their mental recovery or the lack thereof. Can’t say it’s worth a watch, your mileage might vary.

That will do for now.