Ok, so I did see this a while ago, and it has taken me that long to write the review. Not because I needed time to figure it out, but because the film is long and dense and I really could not be bothered for the longest time.
So now I have figured that I would write a very brief review.
In a nut shell this is a movie about obsession and for such a film, one can easily be put off by the two and a half hour running time. This would be a mistake as the entire film is engrossing to the point where you wish it was longer.
David Fincher is best know for his thrill style in film making. So it was a great relief that he chose to approach this with a light, but detailed touch. Working from a script by James Vanderbilt, he uses a methodical approach over style. This is a psychological and layered film, so the fact it is shot with such a matter-of-fact style makes the plight of the victims all the more horrible.
The cast of characters has three major players with a lot of supporting players. Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr. in brilliant form) is the San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter who becomes pulled into the case. The Chronicle's cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal, doing quiet obsession to perfection), is an amateur Sherlock who becomes obsessed by the case as the years go on without any substantial evidence. Finally we have homicide inspector Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). He enters the picture once the Zodiac killings begin in San Francisco, and we see his slow sway from obsession to frustration as the years go on.
The hunt is what this film puts it’s main focus on, but in an entirely different way. The hunt sprawls across years of evidence gathering and clues that lead to dead ends. There are no major chase scenes and the action is played down in favour of a more dialogue heavy film. It is this dialogue, however, that builds up most of the tension. As the film moves from it’s first half to the second, even the violence changes. It moves from physical violence to emotional.
The entire cast is fantastic in their roles (not showy enough for Oscar) but the real star of this film is the screenplay and the direction. You almost feel you are experiencing things as they unfold to you, you are on this journey from horrific beginning to frustrating end. A-