The new eight-part anthology series Roar (Apple TV+) has an episode called The Woman Who Ate Photographs, starring Nicole Kidman, who is also an executive producer.
idman plays a woman who convinces her cantankerous mother (Judy Davis), who is getting dementia faster than any of them cares to admit, to come and live with her, her husband (Simon Baker) and their two children.
On the long cross-country drive in a rental van, mother and daughter are staying overnight at a motel when Kidman discovers that eating old snaps from a family album brings her childhood memories alive. There’s not much more than that.
The episode “The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf” contains even less. Betty Gilpin is a model and former child beauty pageant queen whose mother always told her she would prefer to be beautiful than smart.
She marries a fabulously wealthy man (Daniel Dae Kim) who is so enchanted by her beauty that he lets her live on a shelf in his mansion to admire while he works at his desk.
Sometimes he also brings his equally wealthy friends to admire. She is the ultimate trophy wife.
After three years of doing this without complaint, she finds that her husband has lost interest in her when he turns his desk the other way.
She falls off the shelf when he’s not around, makes her way to the outside world on unsteady legs, and ends up happily dancing around in a rollicking Hollywood musical routine.
The episode ends with her sitting on a different shelf in the fancy boutique she opened. Instead of people looking up to her, she looks down on everyone.
Roar is taken from a collection of short stories by Cecelia Ahern. All episodes have an element of magical realism, sci-fi, or the surreal, and they’re all literally in the same vein, which gets extremely boring after a while.
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In The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck, Merritt Wever dates a talking duck who turns out to be a control freak (forget “duck” and make up a word that rhymes with it).
Once you get past the whimsical gimmick, however, what remains is a routine tale of a woman stuck in a relationship with a terrible partner. You could lose the feathers without losing anything; not that there’s much to lose, mind you.
“The Woman Who Found Bite Marks On Her Skin” – no plot required – sees Cynthia Erivo being eaten alive by her own guilt.
Almost all episodes – written primarily by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, creators of the unjustly defunct women’s wrestling comedy-drama GLOW, and each time with a different director – are desperately thin, often with barely enough story to fill the 30-35 minute runtime.
They deliver their meager message with the clumsiness of a sledgehammer smashing a peanut, and then just fizzle out.
This is especially true of The Missing Woman. Issa Rae is an African-American writer from New York whose best-selling memoir was optioned by Hollywood.
During a meeting in LA with the producers, all male and all white, she begins to realize that they can’t hear what she’s saying.
Soon no one – or at least no white person – will be able to see them either. She is ignored at a clothing store checkout; she almost gets run over by a cab; At a party in her honor, she floats around like a ghost.
And then it just ends, like a series of The Twilight Zone or black mirror which was filmed with half the script missing.
The only part that really works is The Woman Who Returned Her Husband, which is set in a world where husbands can be traded at the local supermarket and then put on display for resale.
Meera Syal is wonderful as a bored woman who dumps her longtime useless spouse (Bernard White) only to find the various substitutes she chooses to be even worse.
Complications arise when he is bought by a neighbor across the street at a bargain price and suddenly transformed into an ideal husband.
This episode is funny, clever, and oozes warmth the others don’t have.
There are 30 stories in Ahern’s book, which means there’s a lot of material for multiple seasons, but Roar is nothing to complain about.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/roar-review-tv-adaptation-of-cecelia-aherns-anthology-series-is-nothing-to-shout-about-41563340.html ‘Roar’ review: The TV adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s anthology series is nothing special