• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 28, 2020
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    Jul 1, 2020
    100
    While authors have produced plenty of genuinely literary true-crime books since Capote published his celebrated 1966 “nonfiction novel,” the true-crime docuseries format has been far less blessed with artful standouts. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which bears the same title as McNamara’s posthumously published 2018 book of the same title, proves that it can be done. ... Garbus doesn’t so much re-create as expand on the twilight potency of McNamara’s book. ... Six sensitive, intelligent hours.
  2. Reviewed by: Jeff Sneider
    Jun 29, 2020
    100
    On one hand, this feels like a seminal entry in the true crime genre that gives survivors a chance to be heard. On the other, it may function best as a peek inside the lives of two married writers, as it’s those intimate moments — the texts between Melissa and Patton and the heartbreaking way this series ends — that put a lump in my throat and elevated this series into something more.
  3. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jun 25, 2020
    100
    Intricate and absorbing. ... [Garbus] doesn’t waste a single minute of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’s” six hours. The series works as a near-perfect example of how to manage several concurrent themes, tangents and narratives at the same time, while never once failing to captivate the viewer.
  4. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    Jun 22, 2020
    94
    I’ll Be Gone in the Dark can be very difficult to watch; it’s haunting and incredibly sad. But that’s also what made it all the more moving, in the end, to see the survivors join together: bonding, smiling, and living their lives in the light.
  5. Jun 29, 2020
    90
    The series is a fitting companion to McNamara's bestseller, but it's also a sprawling meditation on loss — loss of life, loss of the person you used to be — and of the secrets that haunt us. ... The power of her work, and of the series that is her legacy, is that Michelle McNamara helped forge a path for survivors — including her own family — to walk into the light. To speak, at last, and shatter the silence.
  6. Reviewed by: Kayla Cobb
    Jun 26, 2020
    90
    HBO’s six-part I’ll Be Gone in the Dark isn’t merely an examination of one of most devastating and least understood criminals in modern history. It’s a heartfelt deep dive into the extraordinary everyday woman who led to his capture.
  7. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    Jun 23, 2020
    90
    In a fantastic HBO docuseries that shares the book’s title, director Liz Garbus (Lost Girls; What Happened, Miss Simone?) carries on the collective effort to finish McNamara’s work, fusing mystery and biography into an unusually empathetic true-crime story that feels complete at last.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jun 26, 2020
    88
    A chilling and involving six-part documentary series. ... Two-time Emmy winner and two-time Oscar nominee Liz Garbus (“Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” “The Fourth Estate,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”) adds to her world-class credentials with an expertly woven narrative chronicling two equally compelling stories: the search for the Golden State Killer, and the heartbreaking story of McNamara’s own journey.
  9. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Jun 26, 2020
    88
    How Garbus balances these intersecting narratives—the victims, the author, the world of true crime—is what elevates “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a series that keeps its human core in a way that true crime offerings often don’t.
  10. Reviewed by: Kristen Lopez
    Jun 29, 2020
    83
    “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is more than a true crime documentary, although it succeeds in a terrifyingly brilliant way. What Garbus achieves is telling the story of a group of women dealing with victimization, with regrets, with fears. McNamara was a brilliant woman and this is a beautifully fitting tribute to all the things she held dear.
  11. Reviewed by: Katie Rife
    Jun 25, 2020
    83
    Using the classy kind of re-enactments that utilize evocative shots of important objects rather than non-union actors, Garbus shoots much of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark essentially in the first-person, putting viewers into McNamara’s sleepless, paranoid mindset. And yet, she remains an elusive character.
  12. Reviewed by: Lorraine Ali
    Jun 29, 2020
    80
    “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” has some pacing issues and can be clumsy in its attempt to move between the various crimes, the investigation and McNamara’s impassioned quest. But it does something most true crime productions do not: It offers a form of closure for the women and men whose lives were shattered, or whose loved ones were murdered, by a prolific monster. ... But the docuseries is also a fitting eulogy for McNamara, who didn’t live to see justice served but lives on in this dueling narrative of compelling timelines.
  13. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Jun 24, 2020
    80
    “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is for the most part a well-executed juggling act as well as a thoughtful examination of the criminal justice system and its flaws, but sometimes the celebration of McNamara throws matters off balance, and the focus on where her obsessive nature would lead takes a little time to make sense. Is her book deadline, for instance, of any great significance given the gravity of the cases she’s writing about? Not really. But have patience.
  14. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Jun 26, 2020
    70
    The more procedural parts of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” are fascinating. ... The McNamara parts of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” are slightly less successful, and there were times when I wondered if the series might have been stronger if it hadn’t put them on the same narrative level as the crime story. But they are nonetheless moving in their own way.
  15. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jun 26, 2020
    70
    Had the filmmakers more directly reckoned with that bittersweet aspect of DeAngelo being caught — and caught while Oswalt, Haynes, and Jensen were in the middle of a tour to promote the book, no less — then the two halves of this version of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark would feel more like a satisfying whole, rather than the often fascinating but inconsistent version HBO is debuting.
  16. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Jun 25, 2020
    70
    If the aspects of the story pertaining to the Golden State Killer feel, here, the stuff of formula — one imagines the ideal delivery system to be McNamara’s book — the story of McNamara herself is told with crisp elegance. ... McNamara died before she could see justice in a case she advanced hugely, but, for a moment, she seemed to hold death in her hands. That this documentary attempts no such grandeur, seeking to explicate without ever cracking its case, is the mark of its conditional but real success.
  17. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jun 25, 2020
    62
    “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” opens some doors and then never fully explores the implications of McNamara walking through them.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Jun 25, 2020
    60
    The show’s larger challenge, though, is the balancing of two different dramatic arcs — the story of the criminal and his victims, and the story of McNamara and her crusade — that aren’t as easy to connect as you might expect. Here the documentary isn’t as successful. ... What makes that especially unfortunate is that the other side of the series — the more straightforward account of the crimes, their victims and the marathon investigation — is excellent.
  19. Reviewed by: Inkoo Kang
    Jun 22, 2020
    50
    In line with the autobiographical bent of the source material, I'll Be Gone in the Dark is as much an extended eulogy of McNamara as it is a recounting of the Golden State Killer case. These two modes of the six-hour docuseries finally find a shared theme in shattered domestic peace very late in the series, but McNamara, as she's depicted here by Garbus and her team, isn't dynamic enough as a traditional screen "character" to hold such sustained interest. What should be a bingeable mystery feels too often like an indulgent slog.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 11
  2. Negative: 2 out of 11
  1. Jul 11, 2020
    3
    I get it, a very talented comedian lost a wonderful wife, and what better way to honor her memory than making a true crime show depicting herI get it, a very talented comedian lost a wonderful wife, and what better way to honor her memory than making a true crime show depicting her passion for it. One part mediocre crime series, one part subjective biographical tribute. I feel this is 75% about her and that is just not that compelling to me. Full Review »