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Movie Review Zodiac

July 23, 2007

Just when India was feeling happy about Hollywood movies being released here at the same time as they are in the U.S….comes this one. Zodiac. A thriller based on a real life serial killer – the Zodiac. Its been released in India almost 4 months late. Disappointing…the late release I mean. Was the late release in markets other than the USA (Europe in May, Japan in June ) planned because the movie wasn’t expected to be a grosser?

In India at least there was no hype about this movie, just a few quiet reviews. And it was easy to get tickets even though it was released just a few days ago. And three-quarters of the theater was empty although the movie got good reviews.

The movie was every bit as good as the reviews said. Superb actually, if you enjoy crime thrillers. The movie has loads of drama and realism. The director (David Fincher) has given the viewer an effortless ride over the several decades that this crime took to unravel and he has done it in a way as to provide nail biting suspense. Rather tough to do considering the time span in which the events of the movie take place and even tougher considering that he never takes us into the mind of the serial killer.

The movie has three main characters…an ordinary but intense cartoonist Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), a star crime reporter Paul Avery (played by Robert Downey Jr.) and Inspector David Toschi (played by Mark Ruffalo). All of them put in a lot of effort to crack the case and as a result their personal lives are affected…

The movie opens with the first killing…and from then on there is a series of murders…and letters and threats by the Zodiac serial killer. The letters show his sick and twisted mind and his craving for attention…but they leave the police clueless. There is a code that the killer leaves with the police…and its interesting to see how the police finally crack it. Not that it helps them get any nearer the killer!

The killings take place in the late sixties and early seventies and I was quite fascinated with the way the director recreated that world…a world cluttered with typewriters, hand delivered letters and ill equipped police stations. One cannot help but wonder how the police ever managed to solve any kind of case at all in those days…!

The reason for the realism of the movie in not just the treatment (clean, stark)…it was also the way the viewer is pulled into the lives of those who try to track the killer…but everything about the actual killer is pure speculation. The killer is finally caught…but there is some ambiguity as to his identity and I liked the way the director has left it to the reader’s imagination…

But no, I didn’t find the end dissatisfying. The director does take pains to try and conclude the case…a case which ends about two decades after the first murders….a case where the clues have gone cold.

One thing though – you need to concentrate on the movie otherwise you could lose the thread.

There was this interview with David Fincher, the director in Times of India (Bangalore) just a few days ago, and this is what he says:

When you’re talking about a serial killer you’re not talking about the most confident people. They’re always pictured in movies as being incredibly tough and assured, but that’s not the case. The thing that’s fascinating for me about Zodiac is I believe his compulsion and his addiction was not ultimately about maiming people or murdering them, it became about communicating with the San Francisco Chronicle and that became far more gratifying and far more seductive then what he started out doing.

That is what the movie is all about really. And the music tracks are haunting…seventies music…


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2007 10:22 pm

    Thanks for theheads up. I think I will go get it on dvd and have a look.
    I am currently in love with Nagesh Kukunoor and his work that I have just rented Iqbal and Hyderabad blues 2. Those were the only two I could get. I was spellbound by DOR and the feeling was cemented by the subtlety of 3 deerawein. Also he works with my darling Nasarudeen Shah.

  2. soorajrox permalink
    July 24, 2007 1:32 pm

    I totally agree with you on the late release. Disappointing indeed. I have been waiting for this for atleast 3 months. Anyway good thing is it released.

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