Zodiac ★★★½

Upon second watch, what surprises me most is how little my thoughts on this film have changed after all these years.

Absolutely remarkable period detail and freight train worth of procedural dialogue make the first 2 hours of Zodiac somewhat comparable to the visual manifestation of a history textbook. The details, while occasionally quite interesting, never elevate the stakes for our main characters, and they end up feeling like just as much passengers through this story’s development as we do. From the first scene, it gets things into third gear but never finds a way to change up.

Where this pivots is in my favourite scene of the film, where Robert goes to visit the theater organist who knew one of the suspects. The way this scene develops and begins to insinuate more and more about his identity is spine-tingling; exactly what you would hope for from a Fincher thriller.

From there, Robert’s spiral into obsession portrayed by the chameleon Jake Gyllenhaal is where Fincher mines gold, organizing all of the previous clues and taking us along with baited breath. This is where Zodiac is at its best. 

Perhaps one difference from my first experience is my managed expectations for the end left the conclusion of the mystery more satisfying. My initial watch, I was admittedly hoping for a big Agatha Christie-esque reveal. This time, I knew better.

Zodiac bombards you with a lot of information that may seem better served for a documentary initially, but as it slowly builds its characters’ motives and obsessions it becomes a worthy mystery that fits comfortably in Fincher’s esteemed filmography.

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