Zodiac is a mystery thriller from one of my favourite directors, David Fincher; the same director of The Fight Club and The Social Network. He manages to make something as tedious as investigative work exciting and presents it to the viewer in a fresh and idiosyncratic way. The thrill of the movie after all, is in knowing; in uncovering who the serial murderer is, without the journalist getting murdered himself.
Though the movie was entertaining, I couldn’t say that it was a particularly easy movie to watch. In some ways I felt that it was too long, or perhaps this was due to my impatient anticipation of knowing who the killer is. The movie wasn’t too big on action sequences, only two murders were shown as I recall; the first scene, where the two teenagers were killed at point blank (with Mouth from ‘One Tree Hill’ playing the role of the pipsqueak), and the picnic scene where the couple was brutally stabbed to death. Action sequences weren’t the priority and it mostly left the thinking to the imagination of the audience. (For instance, the scene where the Zodiac was about to murder the hapless cab driver was purposefully left out. This is so in order for the viewer to focus more on the facts of the case rather than the gruesome murders.) Rather, it prides itself with interesting situations; as Sir mentioned in class, the thrill as shown on screen was in the reporter being able to write down the details from memory, because he was not allowed to take notes inside the police station. I especially liked the cast; composed of Robert Downey Junior and Jake Gyllenhaal. Gylenhaal as the calm but obsessed reporter, eager in solving puzzles and mysteries; and Downey Jr. as the ever sardonic character. (Considering the composition of his face and his demeanour, I think he is forever doomed to play these types of roles. He may look striking, but he looks like a jester; not really someone you would choose for dramatic roles or as the lead guy in a romance movie) Considering that this was released in the early 2000’s, I guess that this movie helped them launch their successful careers, in a way.
David Fincher has a way of making detail oriented movies interesting. For instance in The Social Network, he was able to deliver the otherwise boring process of web development and turn it into a drama of treachery and deceit. In the same way, Fincher has another gem in his hands with Zodiac, with critics considering it as his best movie. In real life (as this is based on a true story), perhaps it didn’t play out as exciting and as action packed as this. Countless hours were spent on paper work, collecting samples, and other menial tasks such as these. It goes to show that the storytelling aspect of what comes out on screen is dependent on the vision of the director. A film could be deep without being distant. Primer could certainly take cues from Zodiac.