Zodiac ★★★★

I saw this movie at the theatre when it came out, and I found it much less satisfying than when I watched it again yesterday.

Perhaps the initial disappointment was still – no matter how much I want to claim otherwise – the expectation that everything should be neatly resolved by the time the end credits invade the screen. But Zodiac seems almost overeager to stockpile dangling questions and loose ends. It’s not a nice narrative arch, but rather a messy reality of life – people coming and going, threads not being followed, many events happening within weeks and then empty years passing by. (Following the movie with online research, should you make the same mistake, will be even more disappointing.)

So, the journey has to be the reward. And it is a typical, wonderful, meticulous Fincher journey. San Francisco of the 1960s and 70s has been carefully recreated to the point of digitally inserting the elevated Embarcadero Freeway (torn down in 1990s), and even an extended CGI time lapse of the Transamerica Pyramid being built. Not to mention the San Francisco Chronicle from without and within, with typewriters, and old cameras, and drinking, and smoking.

The Zodiac murder scenes are rare, masterful, and truly nerve-racking. The rest is a fascinating puzzle spanning decades, and a document of many obsessions – some of Zodiac’s, but most other of people determined to solve the mystery and pay whatever price it will take. And a big achievement: a case that worn down many people, portrayed in a way that won’t once tire the viewer.