Despite being just released, the new British Netflix psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes has already received a lot of buzz.
The six part limited series, based off of Sarah Pinborough’s bestselling novel of the same title, was released on Netflix on the 17th of February, 2021, and has conjured up a somewhat ambivalent reception.
The series focuses on three main characters: divorced single mother Lou (Simona Brown) and on -the -rocks married couple David (Tom Bateman) and Adele (Eve Hewson).
At its core, Behind Her Eyes is about a love triangle between these three central characters, with Lou embarking on an affair with her boss, David and forming a somewhat unlikely friendship with his wife Adele.
However as each episode unpacks itself, we see that the series is about much more than its marketed premise. With the show touching upon topics such as out of body, spiritual travelling, night terrors, drug addiction, trauma, marital problems and tensions, loneliness and so forth, we begin to understand that the show has something much more deeper to say.
Over the course of these six episodes, questions are raised, secrets are exposed, suspicions grow, characters turn on one another and disturbances within each character boil to the surface of our screens.
While the series presents thrills and a level of drama, it does fail to really stir much in the viewer.
The first few episodes see a struggle to escape a sense of flatness and dullness. With not much happening and consistent-yet-unclear displays of marital tension, the show seems not to know exactly what it is about and what it is trying or going to do. And the fact that the show stupidly has so many side characters and side plots certainly doesn’t help determine what exactly the point of this show is.
Nonetheless, the show is slow starting, but it does start to move.
In the second half, the show is much more dramatic and intense. With storylines thickening, questions from the primary episodes beginning to be answered, and our suspicions of the characters growing, as well as the characters becoming suspicious of each other, the show opens up space for itself to become that bit more gripping and interesting as it progresses.
It begins to make the audience ask questions and leaves us hanging on and above all else it plants these seeds of doubt in our minds, arresting the viewer to an extent not achieved in the first few episodes.
Thus as the show moves onwards (rather slowly) it plays into the hand of mystery and intrigue rather well and gradually does become a bit better. As people say, with patience comes reward, and this show is a key example of that.
And so, though the series is rather uneven in its ability to captivate its audience for some of the time, it is not entirely without its strengths.
The acting in the show is to be commended, for instance. Each actor has their fine moments throughout the series, from Tom Bateman’s ability to seem unhinged and sour within his character that gives off just the right level of authenticity and discomfort, to Simona Brown delivering those night terror scenes with prowess, each actor certainly has there moments to shine. However, it is without a doubt Eve Hewson that steals the show. She sells her part masterfully and is able to evoke a sense of discomfort within the viewer: she draws us in and captures us, unwilling to release.
However, some ‘side’ characters delivered scenes and performances that were more memorable and even better than that the core three, such as Robert Aramayo who plays Rob, who delivered a noteworthy performance throughout the show and frankly, was a character I would have liked to have seen even more of.
Arguably the biggest strength in the show was its final ten, twenty minutes, where the viewer comes head-to-head with a wallop of a plot twist. Though some critics have argued the ending cannot compensate for the overall dullness of the show, I think the opposite. The ending was so masterful that it changed my attitude towards the show a little. It seemed by the end, that the show has a small level of quiet brilliance hidden in it.
Behind Her Eyes is a show that runs much flatter than was anticipated. It’s slow starting, but eventually cultivates a sense of drama that has some memorable moments, helped by the praiseworthy acting within the ensemble and that shocking ending. One has to be patient to get the full effect of what this show has to offer but, all in all, it is a mixed bag.
Feature image Credit:Netflix