It was a radical new approach to criminal investigations: “profiling.” Through one-on-one discussions with serial offenders, FBI researchers could go much more in-depth. FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood), emboldened by this new philosophy, sat down with famed serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) for several interviews from 1984-1989 inside Florida State Prison, in hopes of figuring out why Bundy murdered more than 20 victims. What started out as a straightforward informational assignment gradually turned personal for Hagmaier, whose feelings about his charismatic subject grew more complicated with each conversation. Is it possible to empathize with evil?
Studies of Ted Bundy’s life and crimes have been in vogue lately, but this two-character study from director Amber Sealey is the most sober and psychologically intricate look at the killer’s story yet. With a pair of dynamic performances at its center, particularly that of an exceptional Kirby as Bundy, No Man of God is riveting in its intimate chamber piece structure. Sealey and company, including writer Kit Lesser, who based the screenplay on real-life transcripts, don’t glamourize the oft-romanticized Bundy; instead, No Man of God deftly balances emotional complexity and clear-eyed truthfulness. —Matt Barone
Amber Sealey is an award-winning ﬁlmmaker whose ﬁlms include No Man of God, No Light & No Land Anywhere, How Does it Start, How to Cheat, and A Plus D.