Netflix’s latest limited series, Behind Her Eyes, follows the story between three people: Louise (Simona Brown), a single mother who works for… David (Tom Bateman), a psychiatrist, whose marriage to… Adele (Eve Hewson), a quiet woman, seems to be trampling around a fine line. Through the intrigue and intermingling of these three people, some dark secrets about their lives come to light in a few very unexpected ways.
Some spoilers ahead, but not the ending.
Having watched this, let’s say first off: the series is beautifully shot. The cinematography makes excellent use of wides and close-ups to help create the feelings of unease and claustrophobia, both of which help foreshadow the ending. The ending, by the way, is something that I won’t spoil. The editing is effective; where usually the job of competent editing is to get the audience from A to B, this goes above and beyond by making sure that we not only go through the story as efficiently as possible, but do so in a way that makes repeat viewings a lot more fulfilling.
One of the biggest problems I tend to have with shows like these is that, if a viewer goes into it knowing that there’s going to be a lot of secret-keeping, they may focus too much on trying to find the double meaning behind what the characters say. I am happy to report that, though it could have easily done that, the show doesn’t really waste time in letting you know a lot of what’s going on.
With only six episodes, there isn’t a lot of time for filler, so at times it can feel a bit confusing in terms of figuring out what the series is building towards. There isn’t, perhaps, a lot of cause and effect here; for instance, there is no real reason why all of the events that happened in the show needed to happen at that time; it was all a fairly random initialisation. Whilst at times I felt that the show was building towards the revelation that Adele and Louise were friends behind David’s back, or that David and Louise were sleeping together behind Adele’s back, these revelations come as the show appears to be winding down.
Then, it takes a big turn. I can’t spoil the turns it takes but, if you saw Parasite and were floored by the huge tonal shift, you’ll be floored by this one. The show lays the groundwork in the early scenes of the first episodes to help justify its huge shift in dynamic, but even I couldn’t have predicted the direction in which this show would go. Whilst it has the initial feelings of a Gone Girl type beat with a woman who is seemingly trapped in a marriage to someone who may or may not be abusive, it manages to turn that trope on its head in a few key ways. The complex dynamic between Adele and David would make for exciting viewing by itself, but the show one-ups your expectations again and again. Some elements of the series aren’t going to be for everyone; people may want a thriller/mystery show in the same light as Doctor Foster; but I think it will please a lot of people if they allow themselves to enjoy it.
As far as some negatives go, there are a few. The ending has the potential to be very controversial as there are arcs which verge into being somewhat potentially unsavoury; there are also some aspects which have little-to-no resolution. Whilst David himself isn’t in the wrong on the whole, there are some aspects of his actions that are questionable; in particular, how he is towards Adele; so I would have liked to see more comeuppance for his treatment.
With a small cast of characters, there isn’t a lot of room for error, but the leads carry the show very competently and I’d like to see more of Simona Brown in future projects. The show does exposition pretty well, not giving you more information than necessary to sympathise with these characters.
Do I think the series would be better served as a film? The answer to that is almost always, “No,” in my view. Long-form stories are the best aspect of original productions because they can give some much needed depth to a story.
In summary, without spoiling, I can honestly say that this is a good show. Its premise may seem familiar but the story makes some excellent shifts as it goes from thriller to psychological mystery. With a great cast, efficient and effective editing, and a few diegetic music choices, this is an easy watch.
Behind Her Eyes is streaming on Netflix 17 February 2021.
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Until then, happy streaming!