In providing the most shocking ending possible, Behind Her Eyes’ creators appear to have forgotten that a shocking ending does not, in fact, make a good one, nor is it a meaningful substitute for a lack of character development, tension or coherence
Starring Eve Hewson, Tom Bateman, Simona Brown, and Robert Aramayo
Marketed as a psychological thriller, Behind Her Eyes starts with a convincing enough premise, with wide-eyed Louise (Simona Brown) becoming accidentally entangled in a marriage that appears to conceal unfathomable secrets. The love triangle blooms when Louise meets handsome Scot David (Tom Bateman) on a night out and has a one night stand, before discovering that he is a) her new boss (he, ironically, a psychiatrist, and she, an able and professional secretary – by which, I mean, she owns a couple of blouses, frequently drops stuff down herself and occasionally breaks into the office after hours to repurpose other people’s belongings: a model employee, truth be told) and b) he is married.
His wife is the obviously insane Adele (Eve Hewson), who Louise becomes close friends with after learning that they both suffer from incredibly vivid nightmares. Quite why Adele’s clearly unhinged eye acting for the entire series doesn’t give away to Louise that she’s not trustworthy is anybody’s guess, but without that there wouldn’t be much of a plot.
There are so many ways in which this plot could have gone. There is clearly something amiss in the seemingly picture-perfect relationship that Adele and David share. Supposedly sweethearts, they have a long history, including David supporting Adele through some pretty serious and traumatic events in her life. There could have been some sort of sinister secret lurking behind this veneer of perfection, as Louise slowly gets pulled in.
Alas, it just isn’t interesting. The characters wander around aimlessly for five and a half episodes, before a bonkers supernatural twist comes throwing itself out of left field and the audience are left, blinking at the screen, wondering why they wasted six hours of their lives on what must be the laziest plot resolution in history.
I’m not entirely sure who works on the marketing team at Netflix who decided that this was a psychological thriller but, to me, a psychological thriller involves a) something that is thrilling, of which this most certainly isn’t, and b) something that involves psychology. Sure, there’s a glimpse into the psyches of Adele and Louise through their dreams, but that’s far more of a pseudoscience than actual psychology is. There are so many other avenues that an actual psychological thriller could have taken, such as Louise questioning her sanity or slowly unravelling over the course of the series. Instead, Louise remains the same dull, uninteresting and unlikeable person that she was when the first episode started.
A narrative within psychological thriller is driven by fear and anxiety in the protagonist. However, to even claim there was a narrative drive to this show would be generous. Louise sees everything within black and white, and continually flip flops between whether or not she is #TeamDavid and #TeamAdele in a way that offers little nuance. More importantly, Louise is entirely unaware that what around her is sinister. The only way that this is signalled to the audience is through cutaways to Adele holding sharp knives and a sinister soundtrack, which is phoning it in at best.
I could go on and on about the numerous ways in which Behind Her Eyes fail: its poorly structured narrative, its lack of character development, its terrible acting, its insistence that unpredictability is somewhat successful, its entire lack of tension, but the main reason why Behind Her Eyes doesn’t work is very simple: it’s just not good.
Behind Her Eyes is streaming now on Netflix, just in case this review didn’t put you off.