Sunday, March 04, 2007


If you've seen Seven and Fight Club then you know just how creepy a David Fincher movie can be. This film definitely has a sense of uneasiness but it was a very clean film for Fincher who usually likes to get down and dirty showing the nasty underbelly of the human condition. This film is based on the Robert Graysmith novel documenting all of the evidence about the San Francisco serial killer known to the public only as Zodiac. This of course was a real event and scary enough it was never solved for one reason or another. The film does make some suggestions to who they believe to be the actual killer but they let the evidence do the talking as Graysmith, Paul Avery and the two officers assigned to the case try to piece together the seemingly intelligent and random Zodiac killer.The San Francisco Chronicle receives a letter and sensitive information on a murder, the supposed killer calls himself Zodiac and promises to kill a dozen more if the letter is not printed in the Chronicle the next day. Along with the letter is a code. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaall) a shy cartoonist who has a penchant for puzzles cracks one of the puzzles sent by the Zodiac and becomes obsessed with discovering the true identity of the killer. He attempts to assist the columnist Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and two officers Inspectors William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) and David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) as they try to piece together all of the information from three cities about the true identity of this clever killer. They blow through a few years constantly going one month later, two months later then a year. It can get a little grating but you also get a sense of the frustration of trying to solve this case. There are a lot of screw ups by the bureaucrats as they stumble onto clues here and there and it is Toschi years later who allows Graysmith to pick up the investigation where they left off. There are some great performances from Brian Cox, Anthony Edwards and of course Robert Downey Jr.
As I said it is a long movie--maybe too long. They jump in and out of the various characters as they all try to figure this thing out. Personally I don't know how else he would have shot this thing--Graysmith, Avery and the cops are essential to tell this story and it allows us to see every possible suspect. The film itself looks great as we have tracking shots of the Golden Gate Bridge--the period is captured well enough with the hair and the clothes. This film just might not be for everyone. It is suspenseful but in pockets. As a whole it just seems very long and very choppy. I heard a collective groan in the last five minutes as they jumped ahead another 3 or four years. As I said it was important to tell this particular story but it can make the film seem longer than it really should be. It's not one of Fincher's best but it is better than Panic Room, I don't know if that is saying very much for you, but there it is.

Grade: 4 Buckets

1 comment:

Cody Dee Williams said...

Saw the film on Sunday. Really, really, really, liked it. Well exceeded my low expectations (assumed it would be crap since Paramount put it out during "garbage dumping" season).

The writing, the directing, the acting, the cinematography, all top notch. Only big criticism is that Fincher really, REALLY, gives the cops (Ruffalo, Edwards, Logue, Koteas) a big pass for a level of incompetence that rivals the OJ investigation. You agree Jeff?