Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Freeze Frame: Mindhunter (2017)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Freeze Frame: Mindhunter (2017)

by Tony Dayoub

Adapted by Joe Penhall from the book by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Netflix's 10-episode Mindhunter is my latest binge-worthy obsession.

Shepherded by filmmaker David Fincher, the 70s-era period piece's opener smacks of his 2007 serial killer masterpiece, Zodiac (2007). Past that first episode, however, the series becomes something wholly other—a buddy picture cum road flick about the early days of the F.B.I.'s Behavioral Unit as two feds tour the country coaching cops, interviewing convicted murderers, and investigating cold cases to develop a template for identifying what they then called "sequence" killers.

At its center is Jonathan Groff's turn as the nascent profiler Holden Ford, a young prodigy mentored by the burnt out Bill Tench (Fincher rep player, Holt McCallany). Groff is to Holden as Henry Winkler was to the Fonz or Leonard Nimoy was to Spock; his mannered performance is so immediate and fully formed that Holden could have once ranked as iconic a TV character as these others had the show existed in a less fractured age than this current streaming one. There is much that is stimulatingly yin and yang about Holden and Bill in that way that TV or literary duos often prove to be. Hell, one episode even overtly compares the two agents to Holmes and Watson.

That dynamic is upended with the introduction of researcher Wendy Carr (Fringe's Anna Torv), who encourages Holden and Bill to make their casual inquiry a legitimate, full fledged study—a dream that each of the three secretly harbor for their own unique reasons. Halfway through the show's first season, we get this satisfying shot of the three under the sounds of Klaatu's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft," smugly smirking in an elevator after just having been vindicated by the revelation from their combative supervisor (Cotter Smith) that they have been granted more funding than they could have ever hoped for, albeit with the associated downside of congressional oversight.

It's one of many shots that make Mindhunter addictive visual storytelling.

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