David Fincher's film version of the Robert Graysmith book about the eponymous San Francisco serial killer may disappoint those expecting a dark, brooding chiller on the order of Fincher's Se7en. What interests Fincher most is not the hooded madman with the crosshairs logo, but the cops and reporters who doggedly pursued him, and who allowed the case to take control of their lives. His Zodiac is a study in obsession made with an obsessive's eye for detail -- specifically, the low-tech aesthetics of American movies from the 1970s. It is about the passage of time and the accumulation of massive amounts of information, and it is exhilarating to behold. Like the book, Zodiac hopscotches between the killings themselves, the investigation led by detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), and the parallel inquiries being made by disheveled San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and the rookie cartoonist Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). As the film sprawls into the '80s and '90s with the case still unsolved, lives descend into drunken despair, careers are ruined, and marriages fall apart -- and for the first time since Se7en, Fincher seems more interested in people than in the possibilities of style and storytelling gamesmanship. The result is a nearly perfect movie about the perils of perfectionism.
Director: David Fincher
Writer: James Vanderbilt
Producer: Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, Bradley Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Ceán Chaffin and Louis Phillips
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Dermot Mulroney, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Lynch, Clea DuVall, Chloë Sevigny, Ione Skye, Tom Verica, Charles Schneider, Jim McNichols, Pell James, Adam Goldberg, John Getz, Zach Grenier and John Hemphill