A Quebecer as Nicole Kidman’s trusted man

Yves Bélanger can hardly believe the opportunities that litter his way. The most recent in the running? Nicole Kidman has specifically requested that he take on the role of photography for Nine Perfect Strangers, the new event series from Amazon Prime Video.

The television adaptation of the novel Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, who lands online tomorrow, has monopolized almost the entire 2020 of the Quebecer, who has had a flourishing international career since Hollywood noticed his talent on Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-Marc Vallée in 2013.

It was after having rubbed shoulders with him on Big Little Lies, in 2016, that Nicole Kidman knew she wanted to repeat the experience.

How do we react when one of the most famous actresses in the world requests our services? “It’s very flattering,” answers Yves Bélanger in an interview with the Journal. It’s super nice to work with Nicole (Kidman). She really trusts me. I feel protected. I can have fun and take risks, because I know I won’t lose my job! “

Nicole Kidman embodies a well-being guru.

Courtesy photo

Nicole Kidman embodies a well-being guru.

Thriller in eight episodes, Nine Perfect Strangers recounts the stay of a motley group of individuals in a spa that is anything but ordinary. The series is directed by Jonathan Levine, an American filmmaker whom Yves Bélanger had supported on Long Shot, a romantic comedy starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron filmed in Montreal in 2018.

Initially, the miniseries was supposed to be shot in Los Angeles, but plans changed in the spring of 2020, when a certain pandemic struck. Result: the shooting moved to Australia, more precisely to Byron Bay, from June to December. Yves Bélanger went there in a private plane, which had been sent to Montreal by the production team.

“It was madness! Laughs the principal concerned, who had never been to the country of the kangaroos.

After a mandatory quarantine once arrived on site, the real adventure began, punctuated by three COVID-19 tests per week. In total, nearly 110 days of filming were required.

“It is surely the biggest series on which I worked, declares Yves Bélanger. The budget was over $ 100 million, but I still felt like family. We were free to do whatever we wanted, as long as we delivered the material on time. It was sick conditions! “

Yves Bélanger with director Jonathan Levine.

Courtesy photo

Yves Bélanger with director Jonathan Levine.

Yves Bélanger continues to alternate between projects here and elsewhere as director of photography. In the spring he was part of the film crew ofArlette, the film by Mariloup Wolfe with Maripier Morin. This fall, he should reconnect with Jean-Marc Vallée, who is preparing a feature film on the love story between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Not to mention Clint Eastwood, who would like to retain his services for a third time, after The Mule and Richard Jewell

“I pinch myself every morning,” comments Yves Bélanger. I’m lucky, because I can stay in Quebec with my daughters, my girlfriend … I love New York and Los Angeles, but I don’t want to move to the United States. I have it all here. ”

Nicole Kidman finds the team behind Big Little Lies (except Jean-Marc Vallée) for Nine Perfect Strangers, a captivating miniseries that surpasses any spa visit.

Produced by David E. Kelley, this mega-production is an adaptation of another bestseller by Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers.

On paper, the parallels between the two series are numerous: characters from an upscale background, secrets, a latent drama … But after watching the first six episodes (out of eight), we confirm that we are elsewhere .

Nine Perfect Strangers brings us to Tranquillum, an isolated landmark resembling a conventional nursing home, where wealthy clients converge looking to transform their lives. Among them are Frances (excellent Melissa McCarthy), an author in the midst of an existential crisis, Tony (Bobby
Cannavale), a drug addict ex-football player, Carmel (Regina Hall), a harmless-looking mother, Lars (Luke Evans), a man in need of love, and Jessica (Samara Weaving), a influencer who tries to save the couple she forms with Ben (Melvin Gregg), her friend who loves beautiful cars.

The Marconi, a bereaved family made up of Napoleon (Michael Shannon), Heather (Asher Keddie) and Zoe (Grace Van Patten) complete this heterogeneous group of visitors who surrender to the good (?) Care of the enigmatic Masha, a kind of Russian well-being guru, embodied by Nicole Kidman, more magnetic than ever.

Deliciously anxiety-provoking, Nine Perfect Strangers has no weak link, which is rare for a choral series. Each character has a story that is intriguing enough to keep our interest at all times. The fact that they’re played by such good actors also explains why the show is so hypnotizing.

We would have dropped some side stories involving the employees of the center, but who knows? They may pay for the last episode, when the time comes to unravel the many mysteries that hover over this disturbing closed retreat.

► Nine perfect strangers, on Amazon Prime Video starting Friday.