Behind Her Eyes review: One bizarre twist can’t make up for the yawning lulls

Behind Her Eyes review: One bizarre twist can’t make up for the yawning lulls

Behind Her Eyes review: One bizarre twist can’t make up for the yawning lulls

In a TV landscape drowning in psychological thrillers, Behind Her Eyes slots into homogeneous terrain. By now, like a partner who orders at a restaurant for the both of you, Netflix seems to know what we want better than we do – beautiful people; sordid secrets; tense (homicidal?) relationships. This new series, based on Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 bestseller of the same name, is a tidy checklist of all three. Although it retains the book’s shocking twist (it was marketed with its own hashtag #WTFThatEnding), even that is not enough to give Behind Her Eyes an edge over its umpteen counterparts.

The series opens with a meet cute. Louise (Simona Brown), who has been stood up by a friend at a bar, spills a drink over a tall, dark, handsome stranger, David (Tom Bateman). An evening of flirting leads to a single kiss before he breaks away: “I can’t do this, sorry.” When Louise goes into work the next day, she finds David and his wife Adele (Eve Hewson) in the office. Shocker: David is her new, married boss. And in case there were any doubts that Behind Her Eyes is a psychological thriller, David is a psychologist.

A twisty love triangle ensues, egged on by Adele, who pursues a friendship with Louise to unknown ends. Naturally, all three are hauling some serious emotional baggage – most obviously Adele, whose black bob, blue eyes and near-catatonic Stepford wife act belie something more sinister.

The show’s mysteries are doled out via snippets of cryptic conversation, nightmarish dream sequences, and of course, the genre’s favourite exposition crutch: flashbacks. Scenes of Adele, previously long-haired and smiley, living at an unspecified institute promise to excavate her past in order to explain the present. Not only her present – which consists of a hostile marriage and a pharmacy’s worth of pills – but David’s and Louise’s too. The clues, though, are too few and far between. Pacing is crucial in a thriller and Behind Her Eyes often succumbs to yawning lulls. Conversations run in circles and the same scenarios disclose the same truths again and again.

The series is not without its compelling moments. Adele and Louise’s fragile friendship is ripe for self-destruction, making their quietly tense scenes together among the show’s most exciting. But the story, as it has been translated on-screen, contains so many familiar TV elements that it feels like a rerun of something you’ve seen but forgotten. None of its abundant twists and turns come as a surprise. Except, of course, for a bombshell ending that delivers on its promise of a good shock – but at what cost?

<p>Simona Brown and Eve Hewson as Louise and Adele</p>

Simona Brown and Eve Hewson as Louise and Adele

(Netflix)

Watching the bizarre twist eventually unfold on screen, I felt shortchanged. The cost of surprise, it turns out, is feasibility. Reason and narrative continuity, too. If the series is a puzzle, its ending is a piece from a different jigsaw altogether.

Behind Her Eyes adheres to the classic Netflix brief: they don’t have to like it, they just have to watch it. 


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