Our Take: 3 Stars
Netflix seems to release a new original series every other day — some hits, many misses. Their latest hit, however, came as quite a surprise. Thriller limited series “Behind Her Eyes” premiered on the streaming service on Feb. 17, and has since claimed a spot on Netflix’s Top Ten list.
Creator Steve Lightfoot is no stranger to dark, twisted thrillers — he was an executive producer and writer on NBC’s critically and commercially acclaimed TV series “Hannibal.” Lightfoot adapted “Behind Her Eyes” from the 2017 thriller novel of the same name by Sara Pinborough.
At the series open, “Behind Her Eyes” seems like a standard British thriller.
A lonely, young single mother, Louise (Simona Brown, “Man Up”), finds herself entangled in the marriage of gorgeous, wealthy, mysterious Fergusons.
Standard genre tropes play out as Louise begins an affair with her new boss, David Ferguson (Tom Bateman, “Murder on the Orient Express”), only to accidentally befriend his wife, Adele (Eve Hewson, “The Knick”). Adele and David’s relationship should be perfect — they have a massive house in a posh neighborhood; he has a successful career in psychiatry; she is the epitome of upper-class grace — but Louise soon discovers all is not what it seems.
Soon Louise learns that Adele has a traumatic past, spent time in a mental institution and is now under the psychiatric care of her husband.
David, while sweet and friendly to Louise, begins to seem like a dangerous, traitorous husband with some control issues.
Readers of Pinborough’s book will, of course, not be surprised by the twists and turns (and twists and turns) of “Behind Her Eyes” but uninitiated viewers will be shocked by the welcome change in the story after the first few formulaic episodes.
Key to “Behind Her Eyes” is the stellar acting that allows such contrived plot points to be engrossing.
Brown’s performance is fun and likable, and she is the perfect conduit for the viewer.
Hewson is also a standout as Adele oscillates seamlessly from perfect housewife to unhinged maniac. Of the three stars, Bateman’s performance falls flat.
Another strong suit of the show is its pacing. Each time Louise seems to be close to discovering what is really going on with the Fergusons, a new piece of their past is revealed that turns the entire show on its head. While this type of story can become exhausting and boring if played for two long, “Behind Her Eyes’’ has the advantage of being a six-episode limited series. The short runtime of just under five hours is the perfect amount of time for Louise to stumble upon the truth while keeping the viewer interested.
The final ten minutes of “Behind Her Eyes” turn everything Louise thought she knew on its head, leaving her and her viewers reeling.
The last-minute plot twist makes the show engaging, and ensures that many viewers will be inspired to rewatch the series to look for clues.
That being said “Behind Her Eyes” is not a resounding success. Over the short runtime, Louise, David and Adele remain stagnant characters, none of them developing to react to the turmoil of their world. This leaves the viewer disconnected from the welfare of any of them, unattached to any character and caring little for the series’ outcome.
While “Behind Her Eyes” is certainly nothing groundbreaking, it is a riveting watch that is plenty entertaining.
Anyone who is a fan of thrillers, tragic backstories, posh British accents and supernatural twists should check it out.