Zodiac ★★★★

Zodiac shares a lineage with All the President's Men and Spotlight. All three are tightly wound films depicting the true story of an investigation by journalists, but Zodiac is the outlier in that it centres on a murder investigation.

Going in, I had no knowledge of the Zodiac Killer or the search for him. The film does its best at making things clear by focusing on three individuals central to the investigation: San Francisco Chronicle journalist Paul Avery, SFPD detective Dave Toschi and Avery's cartoonist colleague Robert Graysmith. Over two hours and forty minutes, screenwriter James Vanderbilt bombards us relentlessly with facts, statistics and revelations, and this barrage isn't really helped by David Fincher's direction. Fincher's typically vigorous, no-nonsense style of storytelling, combined with his trademark use of a warm blue-and-brown colour palette, stifles us even further, and although the film is constantly gripping, we long for relief of some kind. Fincher obliges, thankfully, with some amazing suspense sequences.

The all-star cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Philip Baker Hall, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox and Elias Koteas. However, Fincher refuses to let the recognisability of his cast get in the way of what they're actually doing, and all the actors turn in very efficient, engaging and believable performances. Zodiac is a film that is worth seeing at the worst of times, and I fancy it'll grow on me.

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