Arthur Leigh Allen: I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you.
There are many who have compared this genius film to All the Presidents Men. I agree and disagree with those people at the same time. Mostly because, I don’t love that film and I love this one. They both have endings that history has spoiled already, but still maintain suspense, and they both deal with the minutiae of newspaper journalism.
But I think Zodiac is more akin to one of my favorite films of the 90’s, JFK. Similar to that film, if you don’t find the subject as fascinating as the main characters do, then you’re not likely to enjoy the movie very much. You have to find the details fascinating because that’s what the films are about. Another similarity to JFK, and departure from All the President’s Men, is that history might have spoiled the ending but the truth remains unknowable. They caught Nixon and his goons, but JFK’s killer might still be out there, perhaps hanging out with the Zodiac.
I don’t know why, but I too find myself as intrigued as the main characters by this mystery. I feel like if I know every little tidbit I just might be able to figure it out myself. If I can figure it out, then the world will make sense. Life won’t be so scary if we can understand evil, and solving the murders of innocents, be it a couple in Vallejo or our own president, would help alleviate these universal fears .
This film gets this. It gets it and it showcases it in a creepy and staid manner, because nothing is more frightening than the mundane. The ease in which someone can be stabbed in broad daylight is terrifyingly real.
The movie has a wonderful evocation of time and place. It feels like 70s Frisco. The lack of car seats, the lack of DNA evidence, the fog lingering over everything all bring a disquieting reality to the proceedings. I absolutely love Fincher’s use of time-lapse to let you know this investigation is going to take a while.
Obsessive and precise this is the ultimate mystery film disguised as a procedural.