David Fincher returns to the serial killer genre with this look into the as-yet unsolved Zodiac murders in California in the late 60s. He drops the moody, upstart showiness that had heretofore marked his films and delivers instead the kind of sombre, reserved, detail-driven suspenser that Sidney Lumet is committed to.
It's very much a movie-movie: Jake Gyllenhaal plays the handsomest and most clean-cut of dishevelled, bookish true-crime nerds; the killings and near-killings wouldn't look out of place in any sadistic slasher flick; none of the victims and near-victims are permitted a personality; women exist only for purposes of exposition; and every location is glazed in a Technicolor sheen (though, astonishingly, no celluloid was involved in the production).
And within the realm of its movie-movie-ness, it's tense, compelling and thoroughly satisfying in the way that every efficient studio picture should be. The actors help, certainly, as does the script by James Vanderbilt, who throws hooks at you at a finely judged rhythm and avoids the traditionally clunky dialogue that haunts the genre. And though neither Vanderbilt nor Fincher adequately pursue the fascinating strand they open up about mankind's compulsive need for closure above factually supportable justice, they do at least touch on it, and within the realm of movie-movieness, that's enough to be commended.dir:
David Fincherwr: James Vanderbiltph:
Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Chloë Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, Clea DuVall, Philip Baker Hall, John Carroll Lynch