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Genre: Crime Drama
Rated: R
Directed by:
David Fincher
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, Philip Baker Hall
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: Great performances and a compelling fact-based story of an iconic American serial killer make for another film to remember by the director of “Se7en.”

Magnificent Obsession
Stalking a Serial Killer
by Jenny Peters

Back in 1995, director David Fincher brought the world “Se7en,” a modern classic in the serial-killer film genre. After a long-time shift to other subjects (he followed with “The Game,” “Fight Club,” and “Panic Room”), Fincher returns to that genre with “Zodiac,” exploring the infamous multiple killer who terrorized Northern California in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

Robert Downey, Jr.

The film focuses on two sides of the story, the shadowy Zodiac who travels from San Francisco to northern Napa randomly killing men and women, and the men, both police detectives and journalists, who became obsessed with tracking him down. More of a psychological exploration of what such an obsession does to the tracker’s life than a gore-filled horror thriller focusing on the killer, “Zodiac” unfolds deliberately, running almost three hours. It follows San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) and illustrator Robert Graysmith as they join SFPD detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Andrews) in the long-term search for the publicity-seeking murderer.

Chloe Sevigny

It’s a fascinating true chronicle, filled with strange twists and turns that ultimately leave us wondering whether or not the prime suspect in the case really did commit the crimes. But while the ultimate outcome of the killer’s fate is still something of a mystery, one thing is certain about “Zodiac”: It is a film with some truly great portrayals, starting with Jake Gyllenhaal’s central character. Going from a wide-eyed Eagle Scout to a wild-haired, maniacally obsessed tracker of the elusive murderer, he gives a mesmerizing performance, matched step-by-step with Robert Downey, Jr.’s brash and talented reporter succumbing to alcohol and the emerging drug scene of the 1970s.

The rest of the film’s extremely talented cast collectively does finely nuanced and eminently believable work as well. That, combined with Fincher’s deft handling of the compelling true aspects of the story, make “Zodiac” a fascinating film to watch — all 160 minutes of it!


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