March 4, 2007


zodiac"A West-Coast 'All The President's Men'!" raves my wife. A compelling thriller, David Fincher has created an epic rumination on The Zodiac Killer, a publicity-hungry serial killer who held the Bay Area in a grip of obsessive paranoia of sick fascination. The Zodiac killed at least seven people in 1968 and 1969, but thanks to inter-jurisdictional congestion and press involvement, the authorities never had a chance to catch the guy. The movie follows the search through three men:
  • Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), a political cartoonist. At first, he simply has a fondness for solving puzzles like the Zodiac's ciphers, but after the Zodiac quits the killing business and the media and police attention has faded, Graysmith can't let the Zodiac go. Graysmith needs to solve the puzzle of the Zodiac, as if finding the sociopath will offer an answer. Not just "who is the Zodiac", but "why"?
  • Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr), an unraveling, alchoholic journalist. At first, he seems to be interested in a good story, but he eventually finds himself chasing down blind leads and muddying the waters of the criminal investigation. When the Zodiac threatens Avery directly, Avery goes off the deep end and spins off into orbit.
  • Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a homicide detective who never really lets go of the Zodiac case, long after he acknowledges that he'll never be caught.
The movie is not about the killer himself, like the other great serial-killer movie, The Silence Of The Lambs. Zodiac is about how trying to understand the unknowable can affect your soul. Fincher took a great risk making a long long movie about a serial killer they never catch— he risked alienating audiences much like the cop-out endings of movies like Contact and The Da Vinci Code— but his movie is a success because he presents a suspect we can believe in. (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)