Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 2007. Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Phoenix Pictures. Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith. Cinematography by Harris Savides. Produced by Cean Chaffin, Brad Fischer, Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer. Music by David Shire. Production Design by Donald Graham Burt. Costume Design by Casey Storm. Film Editing by Angus Wall. Cannes Film Festival 2007. New York Film Critics Awards 2007.
Starting in 1969, a series of murders were attributed to a figure known only as the “Zodiac” killer for more than a decade before police gave up on the search and decided that the case rested somewhere between fact and hoax. To date only a fraction of the murders that the Zodiac took credit for in various phone calls, letters and even a television interview are considered to be his work, inspiring a film that is far from your typical serial killer countdown pursuit. Rather it’s an examination of the effect that the case has on individuals connected directly or indirectly with the investigation. There’s a straight-laced newspaper cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal) who can’t detach himself from the mystery even at the cost of his relationship with his wife (Chloe Sevigny), an ornery newspaper columnist (Robert Downey Jr.) who becomes paranoid that he might become the killer’s next victim, and a police officer (Mark Ruffalo) whose devotion to finding the killer only makes him doubt his abilities when he gets nowhere on the case. David Fincher moves steadily through these various plots, filming the whole thing beautifully, but never manages to get any passion out of it. None of the characters are particularly interesting or sympathetic (Gyllenhaal’s Robert Graysmith, who wrote the book upon which the film is partly based, is especially dull), and it doesn’t help that the plotting skims randomly through a decade of events. I could see why an audience might be grateful to see something different from films like Kiss The Girls or Fincher’s own Seven, but this ridiculously long clunker proves that different doesn’t have to mean good.