Zodiac ★★★★

"Histories of ages past
Hung in light and shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity

Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love..."

Zodiac has some truly affective scenes early on that establish an all-encompassing tone of dread and horror.

The scene at the lake is the most disturbing to me personally; that this crime happened to two innocent young people who were just enjoying a beautiful day in the sun is so vile, senseless, and barbaric that it's difficult to get over. I find myself haunted by that scene, which makes it easy to empathize with the men who became obsessed with bringing this killer to justice.

Fincher uses Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" so affectively in the crime scenes in this film that I can't listen to it in any other context and not feel uncomfortable now. He does the same in Fight Club with the Pixie's "Where is my Mind?" Every time I hear that song, I think of catharsis, of starting over, of beating "the man."

Speaking of men, Zodiac is a male-heavy film, with only Chloe Sevigny's character to offer any sort of outsider's perspective to the investigative and journalistic boy's clubs that pursued the zodiac killer. I think one of the reasons I like Gone Girl so much is that Fincher finally has a number of female actresses to direct, and he does an excellent job of it too.

But back to Zodiac…. The actors here are great: Ruffalo, Gyllenhaal and Downey Junior are wonderfully cast. In particular, Gyllenhaal is an actor who continues to be underrated; in Zodiac he embodies and carefully calibrates the transition from an innocent but compelled cartoonist to a corrupted and obsessed would-be-detective-cum-true-crime-writer. He is the perfect Robert Graysmith, a man as driven by hunting his prey as the man whom he is hunting. Obviously, they hunt for different reasons, but Fincher shows viewers that any sort of obsession can destroy a life, or several lives, as the case may be.

After the film, I immediately googled the zodiac case; the lack of closure left me wanting more. But sometimes despite our best efforts things become more convoluted the more we dig into them. That was certainly the case for Graysmith, and I think it would've been the case for this film, too, had Fincher tried to wrap up the story with a tidy bow.

Instead, into those final moments of recognition between Graysmith and Allen floats the wavering voice of Donovan... and the lure of a mystery never solved.

"Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity
Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love…"

And Fincher cuts to black.

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