Summary written by Omar P.L. Moore
So fear engulfs you in 1968, and a suspect slips in and out of your hands. You're in California, and while all the world is in turmoil, you like to think that everything in your world is just as good as it can be. But it's not you see, because a man is killing women and men one by one and telling you, the media and the police that he's going to do it again and again. So what are you going to do? Robert Graysmith worked as a cartoonist for The San Francisco Chronicle, and he spent at least ten years of his life investigating the case of the Zodiac killer, who may well have struck Riverside in Southern California before moving to Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area and killing at least seven more people.
David Fincher's "Zodiac" is meticulously detailed, right down to the bloodstain and fingerprint, a thoroughly fascinating film that is scary, creepy and complex. The film depicts souls that have been sacrificed or are administering the sacrificing, hence Santana's occult-like but brilliant instrumental tune "Soul Sacrifice", which appropriately plays over the film's opening credits. If you listen to the entire six and a half minutes of the tune on the film's CD soundtrack, its drum beats and organs mirror the peaks and valleys of the investigation into a serial killer who was never caught, and lives that were destroyed forever, including the detectives on the case like San Francisco's Dave Toschi (who resigned in semi-disgrace), the city's Chronicle newspaper crime beat reporter Paul Avery (who died of a drug overdose), the paper's cartoonist Graysmith (who lost his wife Melanie to divorce -- they remain good friends to this day) and the Zodiac killer himself (who presumably died -- the film makes its own assertions based on Mr. Graysmith's books Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked.)
"Zodiac" plays like a documentary but it is firmly a feature film, managing to be entertaining, riveting and thought-provoking, while being so refreshingly faithful to the facts that it is excruciating. "Zodiac" marries facts and documentary, having its cake and eating it too. Robert Downey, Jr. is his usual outstanding self as Avery, with Jake Gyllenhaal as Graysmith and Mark Ruffalo as Toschi. The latter two excel in scenes in the film's final 35 minutes and their byplay is well worth the wait. Chloe Sevigny is great here and occasionally creepy as Melanie Graysmith. Look at the scene where she emerges slowly at the right hand side of the screen in the distance when Mr. Gyllenhaal's Robert is in close-up inside their household. Watch the look in her eyes -- the facial expression says it all. Either Melanie is full of fear, or gripped with the creepiness that fuels fear and wariness.
"Zodiac" is the year's best film.
Film's length: Two hours and 38 minutes
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