Zodiac, a film by the critically acclaimed director David Fincher, lives up to his repertoire and if not, may even surpass it if possible. The second time for me to view this film, I’ve come to appreciate it so much more. What Fincher has done is truly remarkable, taking what seemingly may come off as “boring” and “dull” in essence that this is a film almost entirely about research and study, instead he has used his skills and talent to produce a motion picture that will keep the bravest of souls at the edge of their seats in suspense.
Gritty in nature, the film revolves around the mystery of the Zodiac killer, based on true events. What I exceptionally enjoyed about the film as well was the excellent use of scoring and a soundtrack that would pierce directly into the souls of the audience. Although perhaps more than 90% of the movie is dialogue, it is what that dialogue revolves around that keeps the movie so entertaining and enthralling. Witty, smart and humorous, the conversations had in Zodiac are a prime example of how dialogue can carry a film. The exchange of words between Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.’s characters are captivating and charming in their own right. As are the moments of dramatic silence when clues are coming together and the excitement that ensues of a character realizing a sudden connection in evidence or previous information that was mentioned.
I absolutely love it when a detective is putting together the pieces of a puzzle, it’s exciting, adrenaline packed and leaves the audience with the utmost desire to hear what this all boils down to. The twists are there, just as there are red herrings as well. It is in fact these false clues that leave the audience cringing at their seats, shrugging while trying to cover their eyes and ears and yet still can’t take their eyes off the screen. For example, when Gyllenhaal’s character is at the home of a movie poster maker for who he believes shares the same writing style as that of the letters from the Zodiac killer, the audience is met with an eerie silence and absolute shock when the man mutters “I made those posters,” thus insisting that this man is the killer himself. The tension in a split second is built to a breaking point and just when it seems that the situation could not get any more intense, Gyllenhaal’s character proceeds to go to the basement with the aforementioned man only to let his suspicions and fear get the best of him as it climaxes with him hastily running out of the household. It is these moments that make the film so amazing and emotional.
My personal favorite part of the movie was towards the end, when Gyllenhaal’s character enters the store where he believes the prime suspect of the Zodiac killer now resides. Previously in the film we hear Gyllenhaal’s character mention how he is driven to find this man because he needs to “look him in the eye and know it was him.” In this scene we see his character enter the store and ask for the assistance of an employee (the suspect), what transpires is a dramatic shot of Gyllenhaal’s character starting into the eyes of the suspect whilst nothing at all is being said. With nothing but that, the film is somehow resolved as he has fulfilled what he had set out to do, leaving the audience with closure that that man was indeed the Zodiac killer.
Ultimately, this was a fantastic film and has now become one of my all-time favorites. The eerie and violent nature of the film makes one want to look away and at the same time desire for more. A thrilling ride from start to finish, Zodiac showcases how murder mysteries should be made and its effect when at its best.