MOVIE: Zodiac (2007)

I read the book this movie was based on several months ago and found it pretty intriguing, albeit very clearly written by a cartoonist and not a reporter (it was written by Robert Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie, and his writing skills lack, uh, oomph, to put it nicely).

So, I already knew most of what was going to happen in this movie, and was kind of worried that, thus, I wouldn’t get much out of it. But, as it turns out, I did really enjoy it. It’s MUCH too long (I had the same complaint about the book, actually), but it’s still pretty effective, and much of the stuff that happens at the very end was taken, I assume, from Graysmith’s second book, so it was stuff I didn’t know anything about (though, now that I’ve seen this movie, I’m definitely planning to read the second book, despite my somewhat-reserved opinion of the first one).

The story focuses on the infamous Zodiac killer (duh), who killed a number of people in the 1960’s and 70’s in the Bay Area and then sent lots of letters and hard-to-crack ciphers to the local newspapers. When Graysmith overhears the content of the first letter, he becomes obsessed with getting involved with the case, even though it’s completely unrelated to his job as a rookie political cartoonist. He ultimately teams up with reporter Paul Avery (played by Robert Downey Jr.), and the two of them begin working on the ciphers and theories together. Eventually Avery is lost to alcoholism, and Graysmith begins thinking it’s time someone wrote a book on the case. As his investigation deepens, he begins to focus on one suspect in particular — a man who, it seems, has a lot in common with what they already know about the killer. Was that man really the Zodiac killer? We’ll probably never know. But, though movies with unresolved storylines usually drive me batty (damn you, Limbo!), the postscript of this film provides enough information to make it feel fairly satisfying. I felt like it had a sense of closure, even if that sense is somewhat unjustifiable.

In any case, I did enjoy this movie, though I would’ve edited at least thirty minutes of it out had I been in charge (why, oh why, am I never put in charge?). If you like puzzles and thrillers, you’ll probably like both this movie and the original book, I think. Great acting from everybody too — and, of course, it didn’t hurt that it was essentially a little ex-Boyfriend of the Week reunion flick either (Jake, Mark, and Robert have all been featured on the site, see links below to their write-ups). Recommended!

Genre: Thriller / True Crime
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Chloe Sevigny

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One Response to “MOVIE: Zodiac (2007)”

  1. Zodiac movie fan Says:

    “Eventually Avery is lost to alcoholism”

    Interesting parallel to the actor who played him don’t you think? Thorough review by the way.

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