I was excited for Mindhunter. As a fan of both David Fincher and the science of sociopaths and serial killers, it was a show the felt right up my street.
Set in the 1970’s, the show follows Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they set off across the country, trying to understand the psyche of some of the most notorious serial killers in America such as Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton). The methods that Ford uses are met with resistance and skepticism by everyone, including his partner Tench, but as the series progresses, the methods that they adopt start getting results.
Behind this main plot are several sub-plots that let us really get to know and relate the characters. Ford, obsesssed with work, tries to maintain a healthy relationship but struggles to do so. His girlfriend, Debbie Mitford (Hannah Gross) is a strong, self-assured woman whereas Tench’s wife, Nancy (Stacey Roca) is older and far more homely. Tench has a presumably autistic son with whom he struggles to have a relationship and cannot break the cycle of being a repressed, macho alpha-male until it all reaches breaking point late in the series.
As the series progresses and the methods used by Ford gain traction, Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) joins the team as a sort of manager. Carr is a strong, independant, gay woman in a male dominated world and it’s played wonderfully by Torv.
Visually, the film reminded me of Fight Club and The Social Network. There was a lot of focus on greens and browns and everything seemed ultra-focused. The interiors were dark and dingy, but the exteriors were bright with oranges and browns being more heavil relied upon. Being set in the 70’s, it utilised a fantastic soundtrack, the music often juxtaposing the action on screen and both the script and acting were absolutely fantastic. Extra kudos go to those actors who played the serial killers. It could have been hammy and unconvincing, but these guys nailed it. It would be interested to know how much of the dialogue during the on-screen interviews came directly from the source on which they are based, but it doesn’t really matter. These scenes were intense. It was impossible to predict where they may end up and that’s kind of the point. These were men who, though mostly calm, were prone to ultra-violent, murderous sprees. We’re not supposed to know their next move.
Overall, the series was pretty great. It looked good, sounded good and was well written. It kept me hooked from the first episode and though there were a couple of lulls throughout and the whole series is purposefully slow, it held together well and kept me gripped from beginning to end. It took less than a week to watch the ten episodes and had it been a weekend, I think Mindhunter would have been binged it from start to finish in a couple of days.