Behind Her Eyes is a Tense, Psychological Thriller with a Memorable (and Controversial) Twist
Behind Her Eyes is one of those shows that are made or undone on the basis of its major twist. On the surface, it is another psychosexual thriller following in the tradition of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, following three people who indulge in infidelity, jealousy and mind games. It’s a simmering narrative that takes its time getting its characters to their endgames, shrouding them in a mist of uncertainty and untrustworthiness. By the end of the show, however, we have ventured into the realm of the fantastical in a chilling ending that casts the show in a whole new light.
Louise (Simona Brown) is a Black single mom who works as an assistant in a psychiatric clinic. She meets David (Tom Bateman), a dashing man who turns out to be her new boss, and they end up starting a forbidden romance. Louise already knows that David is married; in fact, she runs into his wife, Adele (Eve Hewson) and they strike up a friendship. There’s something wrong in David and Adele’s marriage, and it may have something to do with Adele’s friend, Rob (Robert Aramayo), who she met at a mental institution and disappeared ten years ago.
It’s the atmosphere that stands out the most in Behind Her Eyes. The pacing is slow, bordering on meticulous. All of the main characters are flawed, especially Louise, who makes it hard to like her because of her actions, though the series does portray her inner torment at times. In Adele and David’s case, there’s always an unspoken tension between them. Adele, in particular, is insecure about David’s love for her, and David on the other hand, keeps tabs on Adele, because she always seems to know things she shouldn’t. The acting by all four main characters is solid, though most of it is subtle, especially with Eve Hewson. Hewson, in fact, the twist makes you appreciate the differences in her acting during the present and flashback scenes, showing how she went from a trusting, vivacious personality to becoming more subdued and insecure. Brown also manages to pull off her metamorphosis in the finale effectively, showing a placid, almost deathly calmness.
As previously mentioned, Behind Her Eyes ends in a double twist that can make or break the series for you as a viewer.
The genre shift might be too jarring for some people, and the gender and identity politics associated with the twist is also something that brings complications into the narrative. The series’ length keeps things from becoming too drawn out or overblown. It gives just the right amount of space for the atmosphere to take hold. Although, the twist could have used some more time, especially to show how Adele transformed between the flashback scenes and present time.
Behind Her Eyes bows out before outstaying its welcome, and the twist will definitely stay in your mind for days, or even weeks to come. It’s one of those handful few good adaptations that make you interested in checking out the source material. The genre-shift might not work for everyone, but it’s definitely a bold move that makes the show stand out.