Jennifer Garner, renowned for her breakthrough role in “Alias,” a captivating J.J. Abrams spy drama, returns in Apple TV+’s “The Last Thing He Told Me,” fitting her like a glove. Her portrayal of Hannah, the lead character in this new limited series, is a testament to her knack for playing characters thrust into enigmatic and perilous situations. Garner’s embodiment of Hannah is so fitting that even Julia Roberts, who initially had the role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, would likely have paled in comparison.
- ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything’ Review: A Look at the Duality of One of Rock & Roll’s Greatest Icons
- ‘One Piece’ Review: A Swashbuckling, Self-Contained Adventure for the Straw Hat Crew
- ‘Silo’ Review: Rebecca Ferguson Skillfully Leads a Dystopian Series Defined by Deception
- ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4 Review: The Most Hilarious Crew in the Galaxy Returns
- ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Review: A24’s First Musical Could’ve Used Less Crassness and More Cleverness | TIFF 2023
Adapted from Laura Dave’s fast-paced bestselling novel, “The Last Thing He Told Me” follows a distinctly different thriller formula than “Alias.” Yet, it shares the common thread of a woman who suddenly realizes that those around her are not who they appear to be. This revelation sparks a relentless quest for answers, even as each revelation pushes her further into danger.
The series opens with a gripping scene as Hannah (Garner) desperately searches a hotel lobby for her teenage stepdaughter, Bailey (Angourie Rice). As the storyline rewinds, a stark contrast in their circumstances becomes apparent. Hannah’s life in Sausalito is idyllic, shared with her husband Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bailey in a charming floating home. Hannah also pursues a fulfilling career as a respected woodturner, a distinction she proudly clarifies as different from a mere “woodworker.” While Bailey displays typical teenage obstinance, Hannah’s life seems content in every way.
However, their tranquil existence is upended when Owen, a computer engineer at The Shop, a tech startup, vanishes on the same day the company’s headquarters is raided by regulatory authorities. As Hannah races to unravel the mystery behind Owen’s disappearance and its connection to The Shop, she finds herself thrust into a world of uncertainty. The collapse of The Shop, described as an Enron-scale Ponzi scheme, only deepens her worries. Left with a single note from Owen instructing her to “Protect her,” Hannah’s life rapidly transforms into a chaotic and perilous odyssey.
Federal authorities and enigmatic detectives lurk around every corner as Hannah attempts to piece together the puzzle of Owen’s disappearance. Amidst this turmoil, Bailey yearns for answers and comfort, and Hannah grapples with the weight of her responsibility towards her stepdaughter. Assisted by her close friend Jules (Aisha Tyler) and Jake (Geoff Stults), a former lover with influential connections, Hannah strives to uncover the truth while simultaneously safeguarding Bailey, who is just as bewildered as she is.
For those who have read and adored Laura Dave’s novel, executive producer Reese Witherspoon included, the series largely adheres to the source material. However, the transition to the screen underscores how some of the book’s gripping thrills lose their impact. The on-screen adaptation of Hannah’s story can feel somewhat ethereal compared to the vivid intensity of the written narrative. Furthermore, the show’s weekly release schedule on Apple TV+ for its seven episodes appears to betray a lack of confidence in the story’s ability to sustain a full series.
Nonetheless, Jennifer Garner’s performance is nothing short of remarkable. Her portrayal of vulnerability as a form of empowerment is a testament to her acting prowess. Garner effectively conveys that Hannah’s emotional rollercoaster sharpens her wit and resourcefulness, even when the script doesn’t explicitly state it. Garner is not alone in her brilliance; “The Last Thing He Told Me” is essentially a two-person show shared with Angourie Rice. Rice, renowned for her role in HBO’s “Mare of Easttown,” brings a depth of emotion to her character that resonates deeply with the audience. Notably, there’s a charming moment where Rice gets to showcase her delicate and melodic singing voice.
“The Last Thing He Told Me” is splendidly directed by an all-female team, with each episode building to one of the novel’s mind-boggling cliffhangers. When combined with Jennifer Garner’s instinctual performance, the series offers an engaging viewing experience, although it remains faithful to the book rather than expanding its boundaries. The best advice is to save a handwritten note under your remote with a single directive: “Wait a few weeks and watch ‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ in one sitting.”
“The Last Thing He Told Me” premieres with two episodes on Apple TV+ on April 14, followed by weekly releases on Fridays.