Community Relations Manager
KUNV 91.5 FM
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Zodiac is a thrill ride, through and through. Itís scary without being gory,
itís smart without being complicated, and it has a sense of humor even
though its subject is so horrifying. The film is a dizzying journey that
winds through decades and drags the audience in along with it.
The story of The Zodiac Killer is one that terrorized a city for over a
decade, and continues to be a mystery for those who begin studying the
evidence. The film takes a slightly different twist, so that instead of
focusing on the killer himself, it directs the audienceís attention more to
Robert Graysmithís obsession with the case and the eventual publishing of
his book on the subject.
Robert Graysmith, played by Jake
Gyllenhaal, is a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969. Itís 9
months after he begins working there that the first Zodiac cipher arrives.
He works with Paul Avery, the reporter in charge of crime at The Chronicle,
(played by Robert Downey Jr.) and they begin investigating leads, ticking
the local police department off, and even being threatened themselves.
Mark Ruffalo plays Inspector David Toschi, the homicide detective in charge
of the case who canít seem to catch a break. He works on the case with three
other police departments and Paul Avery for 15 years before he finally gives
up and tries not to think about it anymore. Once Graysmith thinks heís
picked up some leads, Toschi is drawn back in and gives Graysmith a little
information to get him on the right tracks. Mark Ruffalo did a great job,
and I think he made the character very realistic and natural in his quest to
find the killer.
What I loved so much about this film
was that it was fast paced, but never felt rushed. Clocking in at a whopping
2 hours and 40 minutes, I was exhausted afterward from trying to keep up
with all the new information introduced. I thought this could have been the
filmís downfall, but instead itís what made it so good. The story and the
case become an obsession of sorts, as you work in your head along with
Graysmith to try and figure out who the Zodiac really is.
I was surprised to see that David Fincher directed this film because it
lacked any of his usual outlandish and graphic scenes. In fact, the movie
was surprisingly not graphic considering its subject. Fincher seemed to
direct more in the style of film noir with fast talking cops and reporters,
a dark foggy setting, a quick moving plot and even some snappy humor.
Even though I think this is the best
film Iíve seen in the theatres in quite a while, I did have a few
complaints. Chloe Sevigny plays Robert Graysmithís dowdy and boring wife.
She gets pulled into all the mystery on their first date, and then decides
to stick around. I realize this is based on a true story (I couldnít tell
you how accurately though) and Sevigny was portraying an essential
character, but I found her flat and unnecessary. She and Gyllenhaal had no
chemistry whatsoever and I found her very distracting. Another part I found
unnecessary was portraying Robert Downey Jr.ís character as an alcoholic
jerk. Again, I realize he was portraying a real person, but all I could
think about when he took another drink on screen was that he was Robert
Downey Jr., not that he was convincing as Paul Avery. I thought he did a
good job in general, and I liked his characterís lines, but I thought that
the alcoholism could have been emphasized less.
All in all, David Fincher does another
fantastic job at puzzling and delighting me. Zodiac is realistic and feels
very natural, but it still manages to be a little glamorous and far-fetched.
I love its detail, its storytelling and its fantastic writing. The cast
worked well together for the most part, and itís twists and turns werenít
predictable or over the top. Zodiac made it easy for me to see how someone
could become so obsessed with one homicide case, and I thought it was