Behind Her Eyes: An over-the-top, oversexed – but wonderful – Netflix thriller

Eve Hewson can lower the temperature of a scene simply by flashing her frosty peepers

Eve Hewson as Adele in Behind Her Eyes

Eve Hewson as Adele in Behind Her Eyes

 

There is good bonkers and bad bonkers, and for much of its six episodes it’s unclear in which direction Behind Her Eyes, a suburban thriller, is going.

Netflix’s over-the-top and occasionally oversexed adaptation of Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel has many things in its favour. Eve Hewson is arresting as Adele, a pale young wife with seemingly deep-seated psychological issues and a terrifying method of chopping asparagus. And the tension keeps ratcheting up as each instalment closes with a fresh cliffhanger.

But there’s no getting around the fact Behind Her Eyes turns ever loopier as it nears the finish line. As shock follows shock and the revelations become steadily more feverish, you begin to understand why the original novel was marketed with the hashtag #WTFthatending. You may be charmed. Or it’s possible you will wonder why you wasted six hours of your life.

Adele is a woman of hidden depths and a wonderful showcase for Hewson, who can lower the temperature simply by flashing those frosty peepers through her trendy haircut

Adele is married to David (Tom Bateman), a suave psychologist with sad eyes and a lifetime supply of stubble. One night, shortly after the couple settle into their new home in Islington, in London, David meets Louise (Simona Brown), a divorced mum, in a singles bar.

He doesn’t let on he’s married, although he does break down in the middle of an impromptu snog with Louise and run off home.

Louise is nonplussed. But she has bigger things to worry about, such as meeting her new boss at work the following morning. Shock-horror, pass the salts: it turns out to be David. They are initially mortified – she hides in the loo – but quickly move past that to embark on a romping affair.

The twist – one of the twists – is that Louise is also cheating on David, after a fashion. She has started a passionate friendship with Adele – yes, the wronged wife – after bumping into her, seemingly at random, while dropping her son Adam (Tyler Howitt) off at school. To say more would be to ruin the surprises (there are several).

Suffice to say Adele is a woman of hidden depths and a wonderful showcase for Hewson, who can lower the temperature simply by flashing those frosty peepers through her trendy haircut.

Whatever is up with Adele, it is clearly rooted deep in her subconscious and appears to explain her rocky marriage. A flashback to her time in a psychological institution in Scotland and her friendship with straight-from-Trainspotting drug addict Rob (Robert Aramayo, aka Young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones) helps fill in the blanks. But only up to a point.

The series goes to places few other contemporary thrillers would dare. It can only be applauded for having the courage of its entirely barking convictions

Meanwhile, Louise is experiencing increasingly trippy dreams, involving Adam (who has gone to stay with his dad in France). And she is growing suspicious of David. He behaves like a controlling sociopath one moment – what’s with all those pills he makes Adele take? – and a wounded innocent the next.

Is he cruelly manipulating his wife? Or is he, as he claims, a tortured soul trapped in a weird marriage?

It’s all wonderfully ludicrous and best enjoyed for what it is: a thrill ride that often takes a sledgehammer to logic but is guaranteed to set jaws unspooling. Were it any sillier, Behind Her Eyes would require a health warning.

That isn’t a ding against it. The series goes to places few other contemporary thrillers would dare. It can only be applauded for having the courage of its entirely barking convictions.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.