I'll Be Gone in the Dark - HBO Documentary Series Movie Review

"Well I stepped into an avalanche,

It covered up my soul..."

These apt lyrics from Leonard Cohen's song "Avalanche" score the opening credits of the new HBO documentary series, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, which tells the story of gifted writer and true crime aficionado Michelle McNamara's intensive, painstaking years-long quest to uncover the identity of the prolific criminal now known as the Golden State Killer. Admittedly driven to the point of self-destructive obsession by her quest, McNamara had made substantial progress on a book draft reviewing the case, and outlining her work and that of police investigators to solve the crimes, when in 2016 she passed away unexpectedly. The draft was completed through the efforts of McNamara's husband, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, and a dedicated group of researchers, writers, and editors who banded together to bring it to publication. The HBO telling of McNamara's story, from award-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus, brings her work to the screen in a gorgeously-realized production that explores the impacts of violent crime and the nature of obsession in a layered, hypnotically compelling near-masterpiece. It is a must-see for true crime fans, and for anyone intrigued by the agonies and triumphs of the creative process.
The six-part series introduces Michelle, whose MFA in creative writing and itch to explore real-life mysteries gave rise to her popular blog, True Crime Diary. There she showed a knack for putting disparate information together and positing theories on unsolved crimes, and her evocative write-ups brought public attention to a number of open cases before she narrowed her focus to a series of brutal unsolved crimes that plagued a cluster of California communities between 1974 and 1986. I'll Be Gone brings Michelle to vibrant life using a mosaic of media sources, including her voice on research recordings, copies of email and text exchanges with friends and family, personal photos, family videos, handwritten journal entries, podcast segments, and her own powerful words via book excerpts read by actress Amy Ryan. By the end of the first hour we feel that we have come to know the bright, driven writer who sought to balance family life with husband Patton and their baby daughter Alice with her growing determination to connect the dots of the case.

Those opening credit lyrics allude to the devastating impact of this crimewave on the lives of the numerous victims of the Golden State Killer, who is believed to have committed a staggering 130+ home invasions, 50 rapes, and 12 murders under the varied monikers of the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, and the Original Night Stalker before McNamara consolidated his grisly deeds under the GSK title. One of McNamara's many gifts was her ability to relate empathetically with crime victims as well as with detectives and other professionals who worked on the cases; I'll Be Gone demonstrates through interview recordings that she was able to create an easy rapport with her subjects and draw them out through engaged listening and a respectful and knowledgeable approach to challenging or painful topics. Her own words, in Ryan's voice, also demonstrate her singular talent for distilling crime scene details and case elements into haunting passages that deliver a frisson of horror while simultaneously evoking sympathy for the victims.

But that avalanche reference applies to Michelle as well, and as the series progresses we see the toll that her research, and her determination to meet various deadlines en route to publication, is taking. One of the standout elements of I'll Be Gone is the courageous transparency that Patton Oswalt and others close to Michelle demonstrate in their willingness to share so much of her for the benefit of the production. Her family members, detectives on the case, research associates, witnesses, editors, famous fans (such as fellow writer Gillian Flynn) and friends present different facets of Michelle's life that help to round out impressions of her, and all are caught painfully off-guard by her death.

Oswalt's candor, as well as his calming support for McNamara not only as a spouse but as a fellow artist, allows I'll Be Gone to stand as the portrait of a successful marriage between two uniquely creative individuals, in addition to its primary identities as a compulsively watchable whodunit and a captivating writer biopic. Credit for this deft balancing act goes to director and executive producer Liz Garbus, who is no stranger to the true crime or biopic genres; previous credits include "The Execution of Wanda Jean," Who Killed Garret Phillips?, "Love, Marilyn," and "What Happened, Miss Simone?", for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Garbus's layered approach to storytelling creates a visually satisfying, aurally engaging work that contextualizes the Golden State Killer's crimes through use of contemporary news broadcasts, area maps, case file materials, and an audio recording that will raise every hair on the back of your neck. At the same time, she cannily explores the why behind McNamara's success in unraveling many of the threads that had remained tangled over the previous 40 years of investigation.

I'll Be Gone's momentum slacks a touch in the final two episodes, with a few bits that seem more emotionally dutiful than narratively vital, and there are one or two passages where the focus on the crimes feels overly-lengthy when viewers may be itching to get back to Michelle's story. But these are scant drawbacks in an otherwise masterful, eloquent, beautifully-crafted production that pays appropriate homage to Michelle McNamara and to all of the lives impacted by the Golden State Killer. If you haven't read "I'll Be Gone in the Dark," the HBO series will immediately pull you in to this tale of terrible acts and a heroic quest for justice. If you have read the book, you will appreciate the chance to know Michelle in greater depth, and will no doubt revel in the opportunity to linger a little longer on her story.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark - HBO Documentary Series Movie Review I'll Be Gone in the Dark - HBO Documentary Series Movie Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Sunday, July 05, 2020 Rating:


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