Zodiac’s appeal is in the fact it is a shockingly real story. It’s appeal is also in how recent the events in question are and the mystery that still surrounds it. In some cases this makes it chilling but interesting – in other areas, this makes it quite disgusting.
The story is of the Zodiac killer, a serial killer who operated in San Francisco and was never caught. That is the aspects in the public conscience but a lot of the movie delves into the investigations around it, the puzzles, coded letters, red herrings and the long, drawn out investigation that felt quite fruitless.
At the centre is reporter Robert Graysmith, played ably by Jake Gyllenhaal, who obsesses over the identity of the killer and tries to discover who amongst the suspects (or not) it could actually be. This is the key to the movie, it isn’t a horror or a slasher film, it is a study in the truth. There aren’t a lot of moments of fear or terror but a lot of speculation, dialogue heavy scenes and conjecture.
Luckily, these scenes have two things going for them – the director and the actors involved. The director is David Fincher and he has proved with many movies, from Seven to Fight Club and recently to Gone Girl, that he can handle dialogue heavy thrillers very well, with a style distinct but perfect to Zodiac’s main theme.
The actors are impressive enough to hold the movie too. Mark Ruffalo is the investigating officer, Robert Downey Jr is another reporter and Brain Cox rounds out the cast. It means the story is engaging and delivered very well, holding your attention over the long running time.
It was always going to be interesting though because of the true element to the story. This is handled very well, delivering the facts, offering opinions but never being too concrete on anything. It had to be handled well too because there is an argument for the movie being too soon, dealing with murders where people involved could still be feeling the effects or forced to relive the horror.
That being said, there does feel like a lot that wasn’t quite covered and it’s clearly a story that has many more elements to it. It’s a long running time but because you’re dealing with a case that was never truly solved, you can often feel like there is more to know or that you never get the resolution you need – even if the movie tries to heavily hint at one itself.
Overall, Fincher handles the true story of the Zodiac well, offering a movie that is full of a great cast and offers an interesting insight. The runtime will take its toll and in some cases you’ll feel like aspects need exploring further or resolutions needed to be given. Whether the film should have been made at all may be another type of argument for another time though.
Rating – 3.5
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