Thursday, March 08, 2007


David Fincher has been hit and miss with me, but he has always been interesting. The fincher thumbprint is only recognizable here in a few cases. One is the obvious look of the film. Visually, it is very much a Fincher movie. I have noticed though that this could also pass for a Micheal Mann film. It looks like it was shot on digital with the way the lights in the city illuminate and with the depth of detail you see in the skyline. The other element is the way that people are filmed when in conversation. Very little two shots used, mostly one shots, dead center. I was surprised that Fincher would return to this genre after being the one to invigorate it with Se7en. Se7en is what he is known for and to do another serial killer movie would only harm his reputation, or the films, or pigeon-hole his career. But all this is OK because he really does not rely on any of the conventions of a serial killer movie here. There are a few violent scenes early in the film that get the movie going but then it really becomes a detective story after that, and Fincher shows a lot of restraint in relying on the story and the characters. One of the problems I have with the film is that it works pretty well as a detective story except that it doesn't want to. Midway through the film, the character emphasis changes to Jake Gyllenhaul's character, who is a cartoonist for the San Francisco news paper. The movie stops becoming a film about the Zodiac killings and starts becoming a film about Jake's obsession with the Zodiac and him writing a book about the killer. His obsession with solving the mystery drives him from his family and puts him in a few dangerous situations. This half of the film just doesn't work. It's trying to pay off something that was never really set up in the first act. Also Gyllenahaul seems miscast here. He is too nice and not nearly erratic or eccentric enough to be interesting. Robert Downey Jr. however is great as one of the newspaper's writers. He is essentially written out of the story about half way through, and only referred to later. I am sure that some of the story decision were made because they reflected real life events, but it only hurts the film. There is a lot to enjoy here, but it feels like the film is way too long and never satisfies.


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