Conor Bateman’s review published on Letterboxd:
Didn't quite have the same impact on me as his other features, perhaps as a result of its overstructuring. The sudden movement to the One-Way Boogie Woogie-esque montage of place vs time following the interview/phone scenes of the Bernadette case seemed to lack connection with place, at least relative to how strongly it's evoked in the film's second half.*
Benning certainly toys with cultural impact throughout the first half, most notably in the confession note brilliantly set to a TV commercial for a compilation CD, but the shots of houses and places that follow didn't link up enough for me.
It becomes a whole lot clearer when the mirrored Ed Gein section of the film kicks in, which opens with the montage of place/time and which features some extraordinary framing and a much stronger sense of location, this despite (or perhaps because) of the amount of time lapsed since the actual murder occurred. The way that plays out definitely lifts the first half, or rather clarifies its structural aims. Still, by placing a deluge of information first and then landscape after seemed less powerful than the way he has been able to merge those elements elsewhere, an apt comparison here would be Deseret.
*(Then again, we are told to focus on "pain" in this section, which certainly links well with the interview et al. Though the Gein interview focusing on personal history and guns doesn't necessarily tie it to "place" in the same way. Seems odd to suggest it but the duality of the sections may have muddied their potency i.e. had the "pain" section not had the montage of place, and the "place" section not had the Gein interview, it would naturally be a different film in overall tone [we miss the symmetry too] but might have alleviated some of the strange distancing I felt from this one.)