Reviews

BEHIND HER EYES: Netflix miniseries

When I saw the announcement for this miniseries inspired by the novel written by Sarah Pinborough I was very curious about it: I read the book in 2019 and, unlike previous Pinborough works I encountered, I was somewhat mystified by it, or rather by the double twist in its ending. With the help of hindsight I can now understand that the main factor in my reaction was the unexpected turn of the story from psychological to supernatural thriller which at the time had seemed too abrupt and… well, over the top.

Now “armed” with full knowledge of the plot, I was able not only to enjoy the Netflix miniseries, but to look back at the written story with different eyes and to better appreciate it with hindsight: if this experience taught me anything it would be that I must expect the unexpected – and more – from Sarah Pinborough’s works I still have to read, because read them I certainly will.

Back to Behind Her Eyes: on the surface it’s the story of a convoluted triangle between Louise, a single mother; David, a psychiatrist and Louise’s employer, and Adele, David’s wife. Louise meets David in a bar and at the end of the evening the two share a kiss; the following day, Louise discovers that the handsome stranger she just met is her employer and she vows to avoid any further entanglement – that is, until she accidentally meets Adele, his wife, and strikes a friendship with the woman, who seems very lonely and tormented.  Torn between her growing attraction toward David and the deepening friendship with Adele, Louise becomes entangled in the troubles of their difficult marriage, one where it’s hard to understand whether Adele is the victim of an abusive husband or the subtle manipulator in a toxic relationship. Louise’s situation is further complicated by the night terrors she suffers from and to which Adele offers a solution in the form of lucid dreaming, the learned ability to control one’s dreams instead of being controlled by them – an ability that will later manifest an unexpected side effect…

While I usually find that books portray stories much better than their screen versions, there are exceptions, and Behind Her Eyes is one of them: in this specific case, where the book had to keep the cards close to its proverbial chest to prevent readers from seeing too soon where it was headed, the visual clues of the miniseries were more subtle and allowed the events to build up in a more organic way, so that the final revelation was of course a huge surprise but it did not feel as extravagant as was the case for the book – although I have to admit that foreknowledge might have played a part here.  It would be interesting to hear the reactions of people who did not read the book, how they dealt with the lineup of cues and how the final revelation affected them, but from my point of view the screen version made the ending more believable, even taking into account the sheer weirdness of it.

Book and screen version are however similar in the portrayal of the main characters: all three of them are depicted in shades of gray, and all of them exhibit some unpleasant trait, although I must admit that screen-Louise comes across as far more sympathetic than book-Louise, since she is far less self-centered and feels more real in her attachment to her child, one of the details that did not convince me completely in the book.  For once, however, I don’t feel it necessary to truly compare book and screen version, because I’ve rather come to see them as complementary to each other: of course, in both cases you have to accept the uncanny, metaphysical elements in the story to truly appreciate it, but I believe that with the foreknowledge of their presence in both versions of events your enjoyment of the book or the miniseries will be enhanced.

My Rating:

18 thoughts on “BEHIND HER EYES: Netflix miniseries

  1. Well, I’m looking for a new Netflix show, so thanks for putting this on my radar! I’ve also read the book so now I’m very curious to see the screen version😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! There are a handful of stories where the TV series/film does a better job than the book. The Horse Whisperer comes to mind, and so does the series of Jonathan Strange and Dr Norrell, which I absolutely loved on TV, but trudged through the book…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard that “Jonathan Strange” was a heavy book to go through and for this reason I never felt inclined to try it out, but I didn’t know there was a filmed version: I will have to see if it’s available here, because now I’m curious… 🙂

      Like

  3. I read the book, so I NEED to watch this! But it’s been tough finding the time, so I still haven’t yet. I had to skim the details of your review, but glad to know it’s a worthy adaptation and you rated it highly. I’m optimistic I will enjoy it too when I finally get to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you enjoyed the book, you will not be disappointed by the miniseries: it’s also well portrayed and the characters are intriguing, even when you know where they are headed and what their motivations are 🙂

      Like

  4. I enjoyed this one too and watched all episodes in two sittings. I guess the only proviso I would add is that the first two or three are fairly slow in terms of anything really feeling like it’s going on but you have to watch for the clues and nuances because things are happening quietly.Lots of little clues along the way.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed the initial slowness, indeed, and kept wondering if I would have kept watching if I had not been already familiar with the story and its slow burn… Still, it was fun looking for those clues and voicing some “ah ahhh!” now and then 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t watch much in the way of series these days so I likely won’t see this. But I enjoyed the review and it does leave me curious about Sarah Pinborough, who I’ve never read. What’s your favorite of her works so far?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apart from Behind Her Eyes, I read the duology Murder and Mayhem (set in 19th Century London, very atmospheric) and 13 Minutes, a thriller focused on a clique of teenagers: they are very different and I loved them all. But Pinborough has written many more books than these… Happy reading! 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.