SARAH Pinborough’s 2017 novel Behind Her Eyes was marketed with its very own hashtag: “#WTFThatEnding” – something I wasn’t aware of until after I’d watched Netflix’s six-part adaptation.
Plenty of books, including Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Robert Bloch’s Psycho and Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, are celebrated for their ingenious twist endings.
However, a publisher actually promoting a novel with the promise of an impossible-to-guess twist is a very clever, very modern way of ensuring plenty of curiosity and healthy sales.
But the big climactic reveal apparently left a lot of readers wanting to fling the book against the wall in exasperation.
I can sympathise.
After sitting through the whole of Behind Her Eyes, I also felt like flinging it against the wall. Trouble is, TV sets cost a lot more than books.
By the time you finally reach ‘WTFThatEnding’ – and nothing will prepare you for just how jaw-droppingly silly it is – you’ll have been dragged through every stage of WTF-ery, from incredulity to roiling anger at having wasted six hours of your life on this drivel.
Louise (Simona Brown) is divorced and raising her cute little boy Adam (Tyler Howitt from His Dark Materials).
On a rare night out at a singles’ bar, she literally bumps into handsome David (Tom Bateman, English but borrowing David Tennant’s Scottish accent), causing him to spill his drink.
After that rocky introduction, they warm to each other. But just as they start to kiss at the end of the evening, a suddenly distressed-looking David says, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” and bails on her.
The next day, Louise, who works part-time as a secretary at a psychiatric practice, discovers her new boss is none other than David. What are the chances, eh?
Panicked, she hides out in the toilet until he leaves.
David is married (but of course!) to the lovely, fabulously wealthy and possibly deeply disturbed Adele (Eve Hewson, impressively weird), who seems to be hovering dangerously between robotic Stepford Wife and Glenn Close-in-Fatal-Attraction crazy.
She wafts around their beautiful house, dressed all in white, staring into the middle distance, fondling kitchen knives and chopping vegetables in a particularly violent fashion.
Flashbacks show the younger Adele in some kind of psychiatric institution, where she struck up a platonic friendship with a clever, funny drug addict called Rob (Robert Aramayo, also English playing Scots).
Or perhaps it’s David who’s the crazy one. Every morning he stands over Adele until she’s taken her medication and phones her twice a day every day, at exactly the same times, to make sure he knows where she is.
Inevitably, once Louise and David have overcome their shared embarrassment, they embark on a passionate affair.
He spends the evenings at her flat, while Adele prepares dinners for her husband that go uneaten.
In the first of many daft contrivances, Louise bumps into Adele on the street, knocking her over (she seems to have a knack for bumping into people). They end up going for a coffee and soon become close friends, meeting up for lunch, going to the gym, confiding in one another about their shared night terrors.
Adele teaches Louise a technique she learned from Rob for taking control of bad dreams and manipulating them into something good.
Logic dictates that Louise, who’s supposedly smart, should run a mile from this potentially disastrous threeway relationship. But logic and Behind Her Eyes aren’t even on speaking terms.
It starts out as a bizarre love-triangle drama, turns into a psychological thriller and finishes up as totally demented supernatural hokum involving murder, astral projection – yes, really! – and even a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Your time would be better spent reading a book. Just not the book this train wreck of a drama this based on.