Warner Brothers/Paramount Pictures
David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) has brought the “Zodiac” killings back to the big-screen in his intelligent “whodunit” thriller, based on the real 1970’s San Francisco killings.
Zodiac is based on the unusual chain of murders that took place over 30 years ago executed by a mystery assassin who used clues and riddles to bamboozle the public and police alike, killing more victims if the code was not cracked.
I thought it was wise of Fincher to choose against filming through the eyes of the killer, and instead to focus on the lives of the three main men investigating the crime, and how the case altered and possibly formed the future for them.
Robert Graysmith is the eager cartoonist, recently hired by the local paper, David Toschi is a local detective unable to escape the case, and Paul Avery is the newspapers flamboyant crime reporter.
I found that the film ran with an obscure time flow; it passes quickly but nothing really happens. When time did pass, it passed fluidly from hourly to yearly periods, imaginatively using the development of the San Francisco skyline as a clock.
The structure worked fantastically for the film though and considering it was shot entirely on digital, it possess a beautiful musty Seventies feel. The unpretentious style worked well, bleaching out the brash colours, and giving the darker ones a grainy detail. Also I have to mention the soundtrack; which is so perfect you don’t even notice it, its ambience flowing throughout.
Zodiac to some extent reminded me of Cronenberg’s ‘History of Violence’, with its beautiful, simple cinematography gently juxtaposed with its overwhelming realistic violence. I found the violent scenes quite uncomfortable to watch, the brutality of watching a knife penetrate actual flesh over and over again was quite convincing.
I found myself connected to the plot, characters and the period. You don’t have to be smart to understand the narrative but it is challenging. This is afterall, more of a dark detective thriller than a killer film; concentrating on the relationships formed and destroyed during the hunt for the elusive killer. Zodiac is a bold, beautiful and refreshing piece of modern cinema that I would recommend to anyone.