David Fincher’s latest is a crime masterpiece and leads us on a history lesson through the obsessive lives these crimes forced these men into.
Zodiac was sold as a creepy serial killer film filled with horror murders to the public, and while it does contain all of those aspects, there isn’t a murder after the first 45 minutes of the film. Some people were left scratching there head and had no idea what they were getting into, a procedural drama carrying us through the painstaking search for the killer by a number of individuals.
There are two main leads and each of their arcs has a co-lead to support them. The first I’ll look into is the Robert Graysmith side of the story which gives us the common man perspective while also showing us how the news and media handles the situation. Graysmith is played by Jake Gylenhaal who is a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle. He quickly becomes obsessed with the murders and the puzzles that the Zodiac sends to the local papers to be published. Graysmith begins to loom around the desk of Paul Avery, the crime reporter at the SF Chronicle, and the two form an unusual bond and friendship helping each other with their obsessions in the crime.
The other story follows Inspector David Toschi and his partner Inspector Williams played by Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards, respectively. These two lead us on the criminal investigation of the case as they try to narrow their search for the Zodiac trying to develop a case and find suspects. Their story takes us through the procedures of the day and how the absence of technology from today made the process extremely difficult at times.
All of these acting leads do great work and help us to be further engaged in this already engrossing crime tale. They are also supported by a number of reoccurring characters, Brian Cox as a celebrity the Zodiac strangely confides in. Chloë Sevigny stars as a love interest of Graysmith and is great at dealing with the crazed obsession of her boyfriend. John Terry, who some might recognize as Jack’s dad from LOST, is the editor and chief at the Chronicle and is great in his brief appearances. Elias Koteas and Donal Logue are great as the county police that help with the police investigation and Dermot Mulroney is funny and adds a good bit of lightness to the heavy proceeding as the Captain of the SFPD.
Special mention should go to John Carroll Lynch who has one scene in the movie and is just creepy and terrifying as THE Zodiac suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. His five minute scene is so odd and convincing; you can see why those involved pinned him as the serial killer that drove these people mad.
Speaking of the lightness in the film, as tense as the film can be, it is also really funny on a number of occasions as well. This allows the movie to keep moving forward and rarely drag over the course of its near three hour run time. The length should also not scare people either as the story is completely engrossing and constantly engaging keeping you on the edge of your seat for a number of sections in the movie.
David Fincher’s look and directing is also top notch as always and the movie is one the better looking films of the year. He also does some amazing work with blue screen that you wouldn’t even think were scenes where they would use it and is worth checking out the extra features to see what scenes they painted in the background.
Zodiac is the forgotten gem of the year. It is top notch quality all around in every aspect of production while also being an excellent look into the way a crime can affect not just the police but the people in the city everything is taking place. An excellent film on par with Fincher’s other masterpieces, that puts him at 4 out of 6 tries now, that makes you wish he got more attention for his films that he really deserves.