Zodiac (2007)

(In theaters, March 2007) The tag-line of this film says it all: “There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer”. That’s both the film’s thematic statement and the reason why Zodiac feels fresh after a spate of other serial killer movies. For one thing, it’s well-handled by David Fincher, whose welcome return is a breath of cinematic talent after so many incompetent directors. Fincher know what he’s going, and his mastery of cinematic technique is only exceeded by the skill with which he understands the delicate balance between suspense and cheap thrills. Zodiac sticks close to reality, with all of its ambiguities and doubts, and in doing so attains a higher level of meaning. Meanwhile, we watch the lead character practically drive himself crazy with the unsolved mysteries of the case, obsessing over something he simply could have ignored from the beginning. The period detail is convincing, the special effects are used judiciously and the film has the detail-oriented heft of a good book. While some scenes can drag and there’s a manipulative element to the way the film suggests a solution to a mystery that’s still officially unsolved, Zodiac makes a confident entry as one of the first good films of 2007.

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