REVIEW: No Man of God (2021)

dir. Amber Sealey.

A slow-burn character study that examines the complicated relationship between serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) and FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood). Bundy, now incarcerated and awaiting execution, has refused any and all interviews, refusing to discuss his heinous crimes. Until now.

Based on the real-life transcripts between the two (Hagmier has an executive producer credit) the film plays out like a cat-and-mouse game of wits as Bundy toys with Hagmaier, teasing the truth but never revealing anything that will provide his victims’ families with a sense of closure.

As the years progress, the two draw nearer to each another, the clock ticking, desperation becoming more potent: Bundy realizing that – despite his best efforts – judgement is coming, and Hagmaier clawing at the hope that he can finally understand Bundy and why he did what he did.

Spiritually connected to David Fincher’s Mindhunter, the film is less concerned with the specifics of the violent crimes, which are shown only in brutal flashes: the beating heart here is the two men. Bundy is both playful and coy, shifting to desperate and panicked, whilst Hagmaier’s soft and tranquil demeanour is corrupted by glimpsing inside the mind of a psychopath.

Directed with autopsy-like precision, Sealey expertly negotiates a series of protracted conversations that, in other hands, could become stale. Similarly the charismatic Kirby and quietly brilliant Wood both tackle the weighty drama with expertise.

True crime has never been more popular, with Bundy being one of the most discussed serial killers. As such No Man of God is a worthy entry to this subgenre, never reaching for cheap thrills or sensationalism – simply dissecting a tumultuous and fraught relationship between two men who couldn’t be more different… Or could they? It’s a fine line, and once you cross it, you can never come back.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brad Hanson

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