iklelele’s review published on Letterboxd:
Just because you can't prove it doesn't mean it isn't true.
Easy, Dirty Harry.
Drenched in nasty fog and murky ink; Fincher with his meticulous vision of 60's and 70's SF has yet again extracted the sunlight. Whether or not he was opting for the recreation of the sickening, impure ambience in Se7en is not of importance. He accomplished it once more, installing an atmosphere in Zodiac which evokes the exact feelings. Naturally, much of it is owed to the indistinguishable utilization of the director's second most preferred tool, but scarcely has a character been this intimidating, this successfull in casting an unfluctuating shadow over its rivals; and all of this, without making a further appearance after the first third of this behemoth of a thriller.
Granted, other kindred films, such as Bong's Memories of Murder , struck my mystery thriller-loving heart with a katana, whereas Fincher's almost documentary-style approach struck it with a pan. Don't be mistaken, I felt the impact, though this film evidently lacked the crucial intrigue that should have been provided by its stellar cast -- until the last third commences where Gyllenhaal realizes that his profession as a cartoonist is as dull and absurd as his role, but I'll be touching on this particular part of Zodiac later on. For now, the fact I was bound to face was the result of aruguably one of the most decisive queries all writers working on a murder mystery inevitably have to give answer to: to show or to not show the actual murders? Entire stories are built around this decision, and if done improperly or rather inaptly since there's no right or wrong, a film in this realm will come off as redundant. The information we gather from seeing the homicides play out on screen find their way to the main players shortly afterwards; hence, we know more. But we really shouldn't be more knowledgable. It takes a big toll on mystery elements, and our engagement isn't spared either, given that the characters have to catch up with what we already know.
Zodiac initially falls in this category, building tension in the most ordinary and chewing ways; letting the crimes unfold in its natural beauty and terror, almost forgetting to keep track of the time. If it weren't for that eye of David Fincher, embellishing those somewhat arduous scenes with an ever so admiring tendency for the small details (the firm camera maintaining its angle whilst the zodiac shifts his berserk fury on Cecelia Shepard, accounting for absolute ridig horror) and a steady hand keeping the tamed frenzy within frame. In fact, Zodiac embraces its slow dip into dark and cold waters with much delight for it is unconventional in ways the rampage of the zodiac is processed.
Does he think that Zodiac's gonna send another code?
Cause I think Zodiac's gonna send another code.
Typewriters marry the fingers of the SF Chronicle employees; meanwhile printing presses shriek due to utter exhaustion. This film's greatest merit is its thorough guidance through the media's methods of dealing with such mass hysteria-inducing phenomenons. R.D.J.'s portrayal of Paul Avery - he is really playing himself - here is the gateway to the world of press, terrorized under the game of chess the zodiac is playing, with Gyllenhaal being the one put in the background for now. Although, he can be deemed fortunate for he is the only one out of the trinity we are following, who acually has children; why fortunate, because the film discerns an opportunity to weave into the narrative, brief moments of parental discretion concerning the ongoing events, that feel like a forced task the writers wanted to tick off as quick as possible; then again the microscopic seeming decision ties in pretty neatly into Robert's spiralling voyage of restless determination and captivation for the killer, who has become a looming symbol. You don't catch a symbol by scrutinizing handwritings; as meaningful as they are considered to be, it is nonetheless an evidence with a considerable proneness to misdirection; alas, that's all what they have. And that's driving Ruffalo's detective senses mad. Toschi likes crackers, and hates tomatoes on his burgers. Had the likings been swapped, there might be some sort of common ground between me and him. Other than that, just another representative of an unit strolling into the predicament that has been set up. With two out of the three bidding farewell to their former shape, Robert seizes the opportunity and exhales some of his alluring features - later unfurled in his thriller streak - when a definite goal has been ingrained into his mind - an alarmingly inspiring characteristic. Zodiac goes completely wild, when before it has gone cold and stale. Regrettably, the film has so much output, harkening back across its humongous length, as the content of the short term memory of the viewer is requested; despite it being virtually empty in my case, I got sugmerged in the labyrinthian direction of a film for its last chunk.