Review: The Last Thing He Told Me - 2023

Jennifer Gardner and Angourie Rice must work together in a dangerous investigation into their family's secret past before time runs out.

This seven episode TV miniseries is about family mysteries and the bonds of loyalty, affection, and vindictive hatred. It also tells how secrets from the past can hold a tight grip over the present, especially when you don't know what the secrets are but the consequences of them are all around you, scattered puzzle pieces you have to painstakingly put together into a comprehensible whole.

A husband and father (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) suddenly vanishes when the tech company he works for comes under investigation for fraud, and the man's mystified wife (Jennifer Gardner) has to cluelessly understand and explain the impossible situation to not only herself and friends (the number of which rapidly decrease as the news comes out) but also make sense of the situation to her angry and bitter step-daughter (Angourie Rice). The two are now stuck with each other and are soon on the run from crooks and government agents who all know much more about the husband's complicated past than either of them do.

In other films Jennifer Gardner has played various superheroes who can battle mano-o-mano with criminals using her feet, fists and weapons, but in The Last Thing He Told Me her character's only real superpower is an endless patience for the mouthy, acid-tongue of her young step-daughter who had never accepted that her father had married this quiet and determined woman who simply won't strike back when provoked. As the story unfolds we learn why that is, and how the husband had prepared for the eventual exposure of his past, his daughter's (completely unknown to her) past, and the dangerous mess that would create. We also see why his wife was the perfect woman to face it this problem in his absense.

The plot itself is engaging and has a propulsion to it as it picks up the pieces as we move through the seven episodes that are each roughly 40 minutes long, but there is a lot of "filler" in the middle episodes and prolonged scenes that don't really add to what we're wanting to know as the mysteries are starting to be revealed. This fluff seems to act as a holding-action by the various separate directors to keep us patient until the final episode that brings everything together. With about forty minute of this material chopped out, The Last Thing He Told Me might make for a fairly taunt thriller about two women with a difficult relationship who have to bond in order to survive. As it is, this TV Miniseries is an otherwise well-done mystery "thriller" with a fascinating character dynamic between the two leads and a powerful, emotional payoff at the end.

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Original Page August 10, 2023 | Updated January 24, 2024