“BEHIND HER EYES” IS CLEVER
In this series, there is no feeling of stress instead, it causes you to drift into entertaining the twists that are going to come while it withholds proper hints about the daring elements in the story.
Once in a while, you’ll come across TV shows or movies that remind you of the importance of minding your business. Behind Her Eyes, a Netflix psychological thriller that was newly released on February 17, is heavy with this lesson, showing all the ways trouble can find you if you go looking.
Behind Her Eyes is staringly smooth. From our introduction to our protagonist Adele (Eve Hewson), as a haunting beauty, marked with a nebulous disturbance, to our mediation on Louise (Simona Brown), a naïve woman who is suffocated by an innate motivation for goodness, the show enwraps viewers with an indulgence on illusions and deception. Of course, the sense of maturity in the series is owed entirely to the fact that the story was made for TV with an already sturdy foundation from Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel of the same name. Still, Behind Her Eyes is very clever, especially with its delivery of twists.
Our first understanding of Louise is that she is a dissatisfied, recently divorced secretary and single mom of her 7-year-old son Adam (Tyler Howitt). So, when she meets David (Tom Bateman), a hot, tall, moody man at a bar in town, he offers an escape. It’s only later, after an indiscretion on the part of David, that she realizes how wrong she was. Not only is David the newly hired psychologist for her office, turns out he is married to her new friend Adele. The show is about how Louise’s indulgence in a bit of fun and disorder, unravels a terrible secret.
Behind Her Eyes is very misleading, it wraps you up in a warmth which is obviously meant to be gradually ripped away but it gives you a certain sense of security that you don’t feel when watching other psychological thrillers like The Stranger or even Mindhunter. In this series, there is no feeling of stress instead, it causes you to drift into entertaining the twists that are going to come while it withholds proper hints about the daring elements in the story. A part of that is because of how screenwriter Steve Lightfoot dispels the story of Adele and Louise through a discursive plot, hinting at surrealism through flashbacks and psychedelic-like scenes, all the while, sustaining an undertone of darkness. For all these reasons, the series works very well to make the horrifying revelations about the show initially dulled when immediately dispatched but, eventually, it steeps with bitterness and agitation which might not be favorable for those who prefer to feel a constant sense of alarm in their thrillers. In fact, it could be the reason why it’s not exactly admired by the masses.
Whatever the case, Hewson and Brown are fantastic in their roles. As a result of Hewson’s acting prowess, audiences are disarmed with confusion about whether to pity her or whether we should align ourselves with Brown and David. The fact that none of the characters are flawless makes it that much harder to determine what is happening even if you were to try and guess early on. And yet, oddly, you never fully feel attached to any character since there is a limited emotional pull that almost makes you feel estranged from the whole world, making it slightly hollow. (Though it is true of most Netflix dramas.)
To be fair, although Lightfoot leaves small trails to eventually make sense of the surprise ending in the series, it does sort of feel like it comes out of nowhere unless, you carefully reflect on the little bits and hints offered throughout. There’s also the fact that the big revelation in the series, while smart, feels like it’s been done before, something you would only know if you watch all the episodes from the beginning to the end as it’s designed. Nonetheless, it is one of those creative pieces that hinges on ignorance to be able to create its high so you would need to watch it yourself to discover if it works for you. Even if you don’t enjoy it, which would be difficult, at the very least, you’ll be left thinking of all the ways you would have avoided the troubles in the show by exercising the boundaries that are seemingly nonexistent to all its characters.