The Zodiac Killer


There is a tendency in Hollywood to praise a film to the skies while it is being made because the director is a Hollywood icon as are the stars. As the time for the release comes, the praise is fainter. Often after the release, the movie is killed by critics and it bombs at the Box Office.

Also, while reading reviews remember they are aimed at the American public first, and then at Europe. The rest of the world has to depend on local reviews.

David Fincher’s Zodiac was released into an America at a time when police procedurals and crime scene investigations were all the rage in television. For the most part this TV fare is slow, meticulous and engrossing. So is Zodiac. I wonder how it will fare at the Box Offices of Asia, which are used to faster paced TV thrills.

In Zodiac we have a true story turning into a police procedural, then a murder mystery, along side it is a story of a writer and sometimes it is faintly scary. It is in the end, a docu-drama. A movie that goes from the early 60’s into the 90’s in two and half hours that to me didn’t appear at all too long.

I totally agree with Brian Marder who says, “While there are many narratives, points of view and even stories being explored in Zodiac, everything revolves around the true saga of the Zodiac killer in late 1960s Northern California. He first struck on July 4, 1969 — and then, as would become his signature stamp, chillingly, willingly spread the news. First, he called in to report his own murder. Then, a month later, he sent to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper a letter claiming responsibility and a coded message that, when deciphered, offered clues. His murders tormented a hysterical public, but his rituals tormented those who tried the hardest to catch him, namely the Chronicle’s cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and chief crime reporter (Robert Downey Jr) as well as two detectives (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards). The cartoonist, Robert Graysmith, had no business obtaining inside information or the infamous Zodiac letters sent to his paper, but so obsessed was he with the case that he risked everything to conduct his own research — which yielded new clues, a book and, ultimately, this movie.

Zodiac’s biggest asset might be the casting director, because the movie’s lineup of actors could not be better cast for their respective roles. Only a movie with recognisable names running (at least) 17 deep could feature Adam Goldberg for less than a minute. Gyllenhaal, the lead only in star wattage, isn’t required to display any real dramatic fireworks, and the fact that he’s able to resist shows even more maturity than his work in Brokeback Mountain. Downey Jr, meanwhile, is asked for some high drama and delivers with ease; it’s child’s play for one of today’s very best actors. If Zodiac were released a few months earlier, he would’ve been collecting the Best Actor statuette for his performance as the fast-talking and living reporter. Ruffalo, like Gyllenhaal, has no trouble whatsoever toning it down, but he can just as seamlessly evoke the tension and frustration of his one-step-away detective when necessary. Edwards, in his first movie in almost three years, is a perfect non-threat complement to the other actors. It’s that kind of unselfishness — not to be confused with any form of unwillingness — that exemplifies this superb collaborative cast, which also boasts Brian Cox, Chloe Sevigny, Dermot Mulroney and many more.”