Can you ever fully know the people closest to you?
That’s the question at the heart of Netflix’s mystery thriller Behind Her Eyes, a twisty mini-series filled with betrayal, intrigue, and characters that are practically bubbling over with repressed secrets. Given the show’s title and premise, the answer to that question seems obvious enough — but the solution is a whole lot more complicated than anyone could guess.
Based on Sarah Pinbrough’s novel of the same name, the set-up for Behind Her Eyes is simple enough. Following a chance meeting in a bar, Louise, a secretary in a psychiatrist’s office (Simona Brown) gets caught up in an affair with her new boss, David (Tom Bateman). But after (literally) bumping into his wife, Adele (Eve Hewson), Louise finds herself being drawn into an awkward friendship while continuing her affair.
Sound like your classic love triangle-based thriller, right? Well it’s not. Behind Her Eyes is actually built of onion-like layers that get peeled back over the course of its six episodes, gradually exposing more of the core characters’ backstories and revealing the troubled bonds that tie them together. It’s the kind of story where you think you know what’s going on. Nice try. There are genuine surprises, and depending on your taste and what you’re in the mood for story-wise, it’s these big reveals that will ultimately either make or break the show for you.
While the impact of the story’s twists may be subjective, though, one thing that’s less likely to divide opinion is the way the show’s been put together. Behind Her Eyes is a highly polished mini-series, well shot by director Erik Richter Strand and brilliantly written by Steve Lightfoot and Angela LaManna. The performances are excellent throughout; Bateman is suitably brooding as David, while The Night Manager‘s Brown nails her main role as Louise. Hewson, meanwhile, is genuinely unnerving as David’s mysterious wife Adele, while Robert Aramayo has the perfect supporting role as her old friend Rob, a troubled addict that we meet via flashbacks (and whose role in the mystery becomes clearer as the show progresses).
Really, it’s difficult to say too much more about Behind Her Eyes without giving some key secrets away. Your ultimate enjoyment of the show will be determined by whether or not you’re taken with the unexpected direction the story takes, which probably won’t be to everyone’s taste. Put simply, the show isn’t just a simple mystery thriller. It’s much of a cross-genre story than that. This was something I personally enjoyed, as it felt like a new twist on a fairly well-worn theme — but I can also see how it might be off-putting to some viewers.
The one thing I will say, though, is that show’s worth sticking with. If you’re anything like me, by the fourth or fifth episode you’ll think you’ve got the whole thing sussed out. That you know exactly where it’s all going.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be in for a surprise.
Behind Her Eyes drops on Netflix on Feb. 17.