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ZODIAC by David Fincher


The “Zodiac” was a serial killer who haunted the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s, taunted the police and newspapers with encrypted letters – and was never caught. The Zodiac claimed he killed as many as 37 people, but only five victims (and two survivors) are officially confirmed.
The Zodiac killer has inspired several films (The Zodiac, Dirty Harry), books (Zodiac Killer by Jerry Weissman, “This Is the Zodiac Speaking”: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer by Michael D. Kelleher, and Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed by Robert Graysmith.)

David Fincher’s Zodiac film is based on the two books by Robert Graysmith.
Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle and is immediately interested in the Zodiac’s encrypted letters sent to the Chronicle, the Police and other newspapers and follows the case with crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.). Police detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) is one of the men working on the Zodiac case whose life is slowly destroyed by the frustrating, fruitless work, as is Paul Avery’s.
The police has already closed the case when Robert Graysmith gets more and more obsessed with solving the crime. Graysmith collects all available evidence and becomes an expert on the Zodiac killings – but in the process he, too, loses his job, his wife and his kids.

zodiac - robert downey jr. and jake gyllenhaal There are some violent scenes in Zodiac (the recreation of the Zodiac’s murders), but the film concentrates mainly on the frustrating and obsessive legwork of those trying to solve the case. Almost documentary-style Zodiac draws the viewer back to a time when police work was all talking to witnesses and suspects, and paperwork – lots of paperwork. No computers, no database containing all the information collected by the police in different districts, no DNA-samples, no analysis of every speck of dirt, every tiny fiber and every hair on the crime-scene – no C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation.
Contrary to Fincher’s other serial-killer flick, Seven, Zodiac doesn’t revel in the popular cliché of the fascinating, highly intelligent, demonic, criminal mastermind-serial killer: the murders are brutal but clumsily executed.
Fincher’s ambition is to show the facts in detail – and that’s not only the facts of the murders and the investigation, but also and especially how obsession destroys the investigators’ lifes. Overambitious? Maybe a bit – it takes Fincher a bottom-numbing 158 minutes to show it all, but thanks to excellent acting and storytelling Zodiac is never boring. The reason why there is still the feeling the final punch is missing may simply be that the facts are seldom as exciting as the movies.

ZODIAC film trailer

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