Let’s face it: television’s digital menu is overstuffed. Even with the luxuries of delayed viewing, anytime-streaming and on-demand, it’s impossible to watch everything on so many platforms with too many shows.
So it’s somewhat of a relief, then, that “Behind Her Eyes,” streaming on Netflix, follows the traditional six-episode British TV series model. It needs to get to the point quickly — and, once it does, to keep the storyline humming along without too many distracting detours before reaching its conclusion.
It succeeds on all fronts.
The psychological thriller, shot in and around London and Scotland, is based on Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel and stars Eve Hewson, Tom Bateman and Simona Brown as lovers (and spouses) snared in a triangle of love, deceit and deeply disturbing secrets.
Bateman and Hewson play David and Adele Ferguson, a Scottish-born psychiatrist and his younger British wife who move to central London, where he’s starting a new job. They appear to be the perfect couple, though it’s apparent, even early on, that there are chinks in their relationship. Louise Barnsley (Brown) is a divorced single mom with a young son who works, part-time, as a secretary in an upscale psychiatric office. She and David meet-cute in a bar; she’s unaware that he’s married — and is even more astonished, as she discovers shortly thereafter, that he’s also her new boss.
The narrative moves swiftly thereafter. We learn, through flashbacks, that, a decade before, Adele survived a horrific fire that destroyed her family’s country estate, killed both of her parents, injured David and left her extremely wealthy but recovering emotionally in a sanitarium. That’s where Adele bonds with Rob Hoyle (Robert Aramayo), who’s battling his own personal demons with self-defensive biting humor. Their friendship will have a lasting impact.
Back in London, Adele befriends Louise, establishing the aforementioned triangle with David that quickly spirals out of control — as long-simmering psychological and physical manifestations bubble to the surface and take a very dark turn.
Hewson, who’s also co-starring in the British-New Zealand miniseries “The Luminaries” (airing on Starz), shines as the ethereal Adele, by turns needy and controlling with a subtle hint of the sinister as she manipulates both David and Louise — who are, simultaneously, manipulating Adele and each other. Bateman and Brown both turn in shaded performances with multi-dimensional depth that adds intrigue the swirling stew of mind games, deception and vulnerability simmering under the surface — with Aramayo’s Rob Hoyle looming as the series’ spiritual conscience, moral compass and human warning sign.
The series was created by Steve Lightfoot, who was an executive-producer/writer on NBC’s “Hannibal” and “Marvel’s The Punisher” (also on Netflix). He wrote four of the six “Behind Her Eyes” episodes and keeps it all moving at a fast clip, giving away just enough in the early going to keep viewers absorbed — and wondering how this twisted plot will inevitably crash and burn.