“Fool Me Once” on Netflix: A Riveting Harlan Coben Thriller Challenges Reality

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Netflix has consistently delivered solid adaptations of Harlan Coben’s novels, marked by compelling writing, strong performances, and enough twists to captivate audiences. The streaming giant kicks off 2024 with “Fool Me Once,” a new Coben entry that elevates these elements to a heightened level compared to previous adaptations.

Synopsis: The film opens in 1996 with a group of teenage boys fleeing a boarding school building. A close-up reveals masked teens chanting in front of a peer seated in a chair. Fast forward to the present day, and a funeral for Joe Burkett (Richard Armitage) unfolds on a vast countryside estate. Widowed Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan) reflects on their life together, haunted by the memory of witnessing Joe’s murder by two teens on scramble bikes.

DS Sami Kierce (Adeel Akhtar) unexpectedly appears at the funeral at the invitation of Joe’s mother, Judith (Joanna Lumley), aiming to humanize the victim beyond a mere case. Judith believes Maya, coping with the recent murders of her husband and sister, needs assistance in processing the trauma.

Maya, a former military member, receives a gift from her friend Eva (Adelle Leonce): a digital picture frame with a concealed nanny cam. Despite resistance, Maya places the camera in her daughter Lily’s room. The next morning, a shocking revelation unfolds as Maya watches a video showing Joe hugging Lily. Confrontations with her nanny Izabella (Natalia Kostrzewa) result in a pepper spray attack, and the disappearance of the video memory card raises doubts about Maya’s mental state.

DS Kierce, dealing with personal challenges and unexplained blackouts, teams up with a new partner, DC Marty McGregor (Dino Fetscher). Maya’s persistent claims about Joe’s return create tension with those around her, including Eddie (Marcus Garvey), who warns her that “death follows you.” As Maya faces skepticism and concerns about her ability to care for Lily, she remains determined to seek the truth behind the inexplicable reappearance of her deceased husband.

Verdict: “Fool Me Once” on Netflix offers a gripping start to 2024, combining Coben’s signature storytelling with exceptional performances. The film’s intense plot twists and psychological suspense make it a compelling addition to the author’s repertoire. Stream it for a thrilling experience that challenges perceptions and keeps you on the edge of your seat.