February 19, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C
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Biopics

Christine

Antonio Campos' take on the Christine Chubbock suicide is all about the stunning Rebecca Hall.

Drama

Mother!

Darren Aronofsky's latest concoction can feel like Rosemary's Baby meets Apocalypse Now.

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" gets fine work from Soarise Ronan, but ultimately flubs the script.

Rome Adventure

Delmer Daves' 1962 film, while no "Roman Holiday" or "La Dolce Vita," possesses its own small pleasures.

Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson's dives into the British fashion world of the 1950s, and creates an difficult romance.

American Made

Tom Cruise is in top form in Doug Liman's sly take on the life and times of one Barry Seal.

Horror

It Comes at Night

Trey Edward Shults' low budget thriller links a killer plague with human mistrust and fear wins out.

Thrillers

Double Indemnity

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are gifted actors but they can't dance the sizzle.

Science Fiction

Wonder Woman

Director Patty Jenkins' smart take on "Wonder Woman" is an action-movie lover's delight.

Alien: Covenant

Michael Fassbender steals the show (twice over) in director Ridley Scott's latest "Alien" prequel.




Date: 2007
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas

Zodiac

"People get old, they forget." So says San Francisco homicide Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) as his halting investigation into the identity of California's so-called Zodiac killer loses traction and the 1960s fade into the 1970s and become the 1980s. But some characters never get old and some films refuse rust. David Fincher's fictionalized reconstruction of the long and ultimtely inconslusive hunt for Zodiac is among them, transcending cop and serial killer procedurals to find a niche in that special limbo of stories in which the tone of the telling matters more than "case-closed" exuberance.

From 1969 to 1971, Zodiac murdered five people in a number of California counties, boasting of his accomplishments in cryptograms he sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. A separate story, on which this film depends, was police inability — not helped by jurisdictional quarrels — to settle on a credible suspect (the case still remains officially unsolved).

Fincher gets seamless performances from Robert Downey Jr. as eccentric Chronicle reporter Paul Avery, who first reported the case, Jake Gyllenhaal as the cartoonist-turned-obsessive sleuth Robert Graysmith, who advanced a man named Arthur Leigh Allen as Zodiac (the film is based on Graysmith's book), and in-form Ruffalo as Toschi, the cop whose dedication leads nowhere. Brian Cox adds mild comic relief as ostentatious lawyer Melvin Belli.

The attention to detail runs the gamut from Karmann Ghias, to pay phones, to Toschi's heavy sideburns and trademark bow tie. The pieces of the fragmented probe are tied together in a way that allows time to move without fanfare, period music paving the way. Most importantly, tat least in this case, he good guys don't win either the game or the set, let alone the match. Instead, they're at the mercy of threadbare breakthroughs more in keeping with the tedium of real-life investigations (suspect Allen died in 1992; he was never charged).

Fincher revels in the frustration of his characters and the ambiguity in deciphering what little they know. In the pantheon of American serial killers, Zodiac only scratched the surface. Infamy was impossible without a face. That the case remains open more than half-a-century later speaks for itself, with Fincher now the keeper of the case's eternal flame.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

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