‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ Review: Jennifer Garner & Angourie Rice Make This Middling Thriller Watchable

There is no denying that the streaming wars are now underway, with each streaming site battling for viewers’ attention and keeping them on their platform for as long as possible. Before the COVID-19 epidemic struck, there were already warning signals of this stage of entertainment. Studios sought to cash in on this trend by turning everything into a TV show or miniseries as soon as we became cooped up in our houses, unable to visit the theater, and began spending hours, weeks, and months on our mobile devices. Because of this, a lot of content that could have been no longer than a 90-minute movie or a short film was extended into 8 hours of material. It’s true that we were able to obtain a lot of useful information. The Last Thing He Told Me, the subject of today’s conversation, is one example of this continual tendency of making a nothing-burger appear to be a happy meal, which we just cannot ignore.

Hannah is a woodturning artist and is wed to Owen, a senior executive at The Shop, a digital firm. Bailey, Owen’s child from a previous marriage, isn’t really pleased with Owen and Hannah’s union and doesn’t hesitate to turn her away. Bobby and Bailey, who both aspire to be singers, are moving in together and attending the same college. Everything looks to be going quite smoothly until Owen vanishes and leaves Hannah a mysterious note urging her to keep Bailey safe. Soon after that, Hannah finds out that Avett, The Shop’s chief executive, has been detained since the business has been found to have participated in embezzlement through one of their recent initiatives. Hannah isn’t ready to believe that Owen has fled to avoid this, despite everyone’s protestations to the contrary. The situation becomes even more difficult when Bailey receives a duffle bag full of cash, and Hannah is visited by Grady, a U.S. Marshall who cautions her about the repercussions of refusing to cooperate.

The presence of The Last Thing He Told Me makes me think of a theory I developed after watching Daisy Jones and the Six, in which I doubt the intelligence of book readers who turn even the most forgettable books into blockbusters. Producers translate the aforementioned books into episodes, miniseries, or movies in an effort to replicate their success, but the resulting works are generally much worse than the original books. However, because reading is still associated with intelligence, writers and readers are rarely criticized for their work. Instead, the responsibility is placed on those who alter the material, as in the expression the book is better. That seems ridiculous because The Last Thing He Told Me’s plot is a jumbled mash-up of every formulaic mystery-thriller ever made, even when the performances and cinematography are taken out of the equation. And this time, you are not to blame because one of the screenwriters is Laura Dave, the author of the book on which the miniseries is based. So, my recommendation to readers is to develop their taste and focus on literary works that merit attention and the live-action adaptation.

Regarding the graphics, because this is a miniseries after all, nary a single frame in the entire seven-episode grind stands out. It’s strange because Michael McDonough has contributed to several films and television programs where the cinematography steals the show. But in this instance, he can’t stop the show from resembling one of Star World’s generic suspense series. Of course, the directors and production designers are also to blame because they give Sausalito’s colorful and almost mystical city a boring and dreary appearance. It’s pretty amazing how they did it because it takes a special kind of expertise to make a floating city feel uninhabitable. With regard to the editors, they experiment with a few match cuts and create an emotional link between the flashbacks and the current affairs. However, none of these improves the viewing experience because to the shallow writing and simplistic direction. After a while, it seems more logical to switch off the television and just listen to the plot develop.

The actors’ performances in The Last Thing He Told Me are the only thing standing in your way. Jennifer Garner effortlessly captures Hannah’s self-assurance and tenacity. Her physique shows that she has the power to do the challenging process of woodturning and, if someone were to try to test her patience, punch a hole through their chest. The fact that she doesn’t need to use physical force simply serves to highlight how confident she is in her capacity for deception and presence of mind. Because Bailey effectively becomes a blank slate after one episode (I won’t say which one), Angourie Rice always makes sure that you can relate to Bailey. Nevertheless, Bailey internalizes her shock and confusion rather than confusing you with it, allowing you to project your emotions onto her. It’s sad that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau primarily appears in flashbacks to provide hazy tidbits of information. At all times, Augusto Aguilera takes over the screen. It’s astonishing how he exerts his authority in every circumstance. Some familiar faces make up the rest of the supporting cast, and they all give good performances.

The majority of the miniseries’ running time is devoted to developing the big evil villain, who is to blame for Owen’s disappearance. The voyages of Hannah and Bailey come to an abrupt halt at the conclusion, with no more buildup. You could argue that choosing an explosive showdown is cliche because it occurs in every mystery novel. Here is my rebuttal. The least you can do is offer the audience a satisfying conclusion after spending around seven hours recycling every cliché in the history of the mystery and thriller genres. At least then, we would have a memory of the show. Your boring ending ceremony must be earned. It’s better to be cliched than to be perceived as pretentious as hell, so you can’t just do it in the hopes of standing out among other content that tries to take viewers on a bizarre ride. With that said, we kindly request that you watch the miniseries on Apple TV+, develop your own judgment, and then contact us with your thoughts.

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