Throwback DVD Review – ZODIAC


Directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book Zodiac
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr.

Based on Robert Graysmith’s book of the same name, Zodiac is a psycho- sociological exploration of the investigation surrounding the serial killer in 1960’s San Francisco Bay area. The film explores interactions the killer had with the media while moving from a fast paced storyline of murder and first-hand accounts, to an unresolved cold-case, into a disheartened picture of the ways people coped with the heightened reality created by the Zodiac murders. However, the mystery is solved.

zodiac_film_260pixFincher does a great job of combining documented events with cinematography, essentially creating an eerie picture of psychological dangers faced by SF Chronicle cartoonist Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), SFPD chief investigator David Toschi (Ruffalo), and SF Chronicle police reporter Paul Avery (Downey Jr.) that rivaled the horrific, detached reality of the Zodiac. The killer remains an anonymous presence throughout the bulk of the film, enhancing his persona. Early on, he sends an encrypted letter to the Chronicle threatening to disable a school bus in order to kill the children inside if they don’t publish his letters. From there, the killer’s identity took on a life of its own in the media, and I became more caught up in solving the case, echoing the reality captured of the public’s desire to be involved in the murder game.

zodiac-presWith engrossing performances by Gyllenhaal, Ruffalo, and Downey Jr., and an impressive list of supporting actors, Zodiac is a thriller balanced by the reality of its origin. The film does not fail to raise compelling questions about individuals bound by circumstance, working together to find closure in tragedy fueled by violent narcissism. Highly recommended.

Helena Fahnrich