Zodiac (2007): “Man is the most dangerous animal of all.”

zodiacA beast of a thriller directed by David Fincher and based on a book of the same name by Robert Graysmith, Zodiac (2007) is a story that technically has no ending. Zodiac is a compelling tale of obsession and criminal riddle-solving whilst a serial killer stalks his prey. Its synopsis is as follows:

A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970’s case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book, the movie’s focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. (source)

I really enjoyed this film. A compelling story, with a clever script, the film also boasts a stellar ensemble cast. Jake Gyllenhaal leads the charge as cartoonist-turned-crimefighter Robert Graysmith, author of the source material of the film, with great support by Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo. As aforementioned, if you’re aware of the story of the Zodiac Killer, you may already know that this film was destined to have a bit of an ambiguous ending. But rather than this being frustrating, we instead see this conundrum through the eyes of the people obsessed with the case, and the impact of this ambiguity upon them; giving the film’s story more of a concrete quality rather than ending on the myriad of questions that are left over in relation to the case.

Zodiac is also shot beautifully, with typically excellent direction by David Fincher. Cinematographer Harris Savides chooses muted, warm tones for that comfortable vintage feel, with threatening shadows and light during fairly brutal murder scenes to heighten the tension. Savides also worked his visual magic on other beautifully photographed films such as The Bling Ring (2013), Somewhere (2010), and Milk (2008); all films which have their own distinct visual identity.

Here is a selection of my favourite shots from the film, mixed up so as to avoid spoilers as much as possible.

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4/5
Watch the trailer here.

20 comments

  1. What with superhero season on my blog, I’ve been watching loads of Downey and Ruffalo films. Both have so much talent. Ruffalo stole the show for me in 13 Going on 30 too, and Downey Jr did Only You with the same result for me. Liked this film. Strange to see a film with such an unresolved ending but fitting.

    1. I love Mark Ruffalo! I like him in pretty much every film I’ve seen him in, and he was great in this too.

  2. found this film so unsettling when I first watched it and every time I rewatch it I feel off for a couple of days. It’s so well done and I am really impressed with how much potentially confusing information they packed in without making it boring or hard to follow.

    1. It definitely has that effect. Like a good cinema hangover!

  3. Great post, Anna! This is one of my Blind Spot “alternates” I keep putting off although people keep telling me to watch it. I need to stop putting it off… : )

    1. Thanks T9M! You’d better get around to this one some time! 🙂

  4. Great post! That Fincher can take dense material like this and make a quiet epic that has so much impact on the viewer is pretty remarkable, but he’s been a favorite director of mine for a while. Even the much reviled Alien 3 shows he had the touch for obsessive visual detail, but it’s best to see the Assembly Cut over the theatrical version.

    1. Thanks heaps! 🙂 You know, I’ve never seen Alien 3. Might have to pop that one on the list!

  5. Ugh…this is such a frustrating film for me. Those first two hours are so great and that last hour is unbearably dull, at least in my opinion. Love me some Fincher, but I think this is one of his lesser efforts.

    1. Fair enough! I find this one fascinating, but it is quite long. What’s your favourite Fincher?

  6. Nice review! While it’s not one of my higher favorites by David Fincher, it’s still a pretty unsettling movie. The cast stuck out a little bit more for me than the direction, but it’s chilling how much information, evidence, and individual theories can railroad a case from being solved.

    1. Thanks Katy! 🙂 This one is super unsettling. Which Fincher film is your number one favourite?

  7. Great review! I watched this for the first time the other day too and it blew me away. RDJ and Ruffalo are amazing on screen, and it is so nice to see them in things before Marvel hit them so hard.

    1. Thanks Natasha! 🙂 I agree – I’ve never gotten into those Marvel films, but seeing them together in such a great film was really nice.

  8. This is actually my favorite Fincher film. That scene in the basement (you know what I’m talking about) is one of the most frightening scenes there is in a non-horror movie. It’s a splendid thriller, and an even better character study in obsession at the cost of all else in someone’s life. Just a splendid movie.

    1. I totally agree. Gyllenhaal was great in that scene too. Such a great film.

  9. This movie is freaking amazing! Definitely my favourite Fincher film.

    1. He’s a good egg, that Fincher!

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