TV Review: The Girl Before

A glossy psychological thriller that twists and turns entertainingly, The Girl Before is a nice bit of luxury TV

“I don’t think Facebook follows me into the shower”

Adapted by JP Delaney from his novel of the same name, The Girl Before does a clever job of taking all-too-familiar TV thriller tropes and if not subverting them, actually uses them efficiently and effectively, which feels like a more radical act in some ways. So there’s an incredibly glamorous house and a narrative unfolding in two time-periods simultaneously but for once, these choices are entirely justified.   

That house is 1 Folgate Street, an ultra-minimalist architect’s wet dream which has been made available by that architect for an incredibly cheap rent. Only thing is, there’s a whole set of rules you have to abide by, if you pass the interview, in order to maintain the place in keeping with its impossibly stylish aesthetic. And of course, that landlord has a handsome face and a mysterious past which doesn’t bode well for any prospective tenants.

We meet two of those pretty much at the same time. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Jane who is looking for a fresh start and Jessica Plummer’s Emma who is looking to move in with her partner Simon. And soon enough we figure out that Jane is three years ahead of Emma and not only has Emma passed away now, she wasn’t even the first person to die in the house. And so parallel mysteries unfold, as we see how both women’s experiences are eerily echoing each other and that danger is all too real here.

David Oyelowo is brilliant as architect Edward, enigmatically inscrutable as he wields his property-laden power over all concerned. And Mbatha-Raw and Plummer both impress as they try to work through the complex traumas in their lives at the same time as negotiating the weirdness of living in a hostile house from the future. Directed stylishly by Lisa Brühlmann, it looks a quality drama from top to bottom and grips like one too.

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