Jun 3, 2007

Zodiac

Zodiac is a mature, complex film that is both entertaining and relentlessly adherent to detail. The film tells the true story of the Zodiac killer who murdered five people in Northern California in the late 1960's. Directed by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) this movie is many things, suspenseful thriller, character study, police drama, historical document. I can report here that it satisfies on all levels. Apparently the director's original cut was over 3 hours long and even though he had final cut, he managed to bring it down to 150 minutes, still bringing into sharp focus every detail and nuance of the complicated story. This is no quick fix Hollywood film with jump cuts and easy solutions. It is a journey into the hearts and minds of men. The hearts of the men trying to solve the case and catch the killer and the mind of the unknown murderer.

Set and filmed in San Francisco, the movie begins with the killing of a young couple parked in their car. The killer sends a letter written in code to the San Francisco Chronicle where we meet crime writer Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr) and cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) who become entwined with the case over a number of years as the Zodiac killer (he signs his letters with a cross-hair like symbol) sends coded letters after each murder. Graysmith, although not officially connected with the case, becomes obsessed with the story and in real life would later write two books on which the film is based. The other major character is Police detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) who heads up the investigation which he pursues through many twists and turns over many years. Fincher's attention to detail is impressive. Nearly every scene is given a place and date as we go on a journey with the multitude of characters trying to find the identity of the Zodiac. We experience the dead ends and false leads that the newspapermen and police officers encounter. We feel their mounting frustrations as clues lead to more questions and answers slip through the cracks. The characters are all richly written, we understand their motivations and connect with their emotions. Beautifully shot with scope and elegance by Harris Savides, who also works with Gus Van Sant, this film is one to enjoy on many levels. It has some quiet moments of humour, some scenes of suspense and dread and it definitely works the mind over thoroughly as you try to absorb all the threads pulled together through out the film. The cast is uniformly excellent. Downey brings his magnetic personality again to the screen with his many shades of the human condition. Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo are excellent in the way they can portray characters that are full of self doubt and I always manage to empathise with the parts they play. The supporting cast is exemplary. Brian Cox, Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Philip Baker Hall and John Carroll Lynch all bring their fine acting abilities to the screen. Zodiac is an absorbing film, directed with care and attention to detail, exquisitely acted, if you give yourself over to the journey, you will find yourself ruminating on it for days to come.

4 Comments:

  • At June 04, 2007 , Anonymous Sean said...

    We saw this a few weeks ago and loved it as well. I love all Fincher's stuff.

     
  • At June 06, 2007 , Anonymous James said...

    Great review Wayne! I saw this last week and Fincher has this real knack of sucking you into these disturbing worlds. Walking out of the theatre, for about 5 minutes afterwards I felt like I was still in that world.

    Indeed a fantastic film! Arguably his most mature film to date.

     
  • At June 06, 2007 , Anonymous amanda said...

    yes, one of the best films this year so far.
    i loved it.

     
  • At June 15, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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