2007; directed by David Fincher; adapted by James Vanderbilt; 162 mins
It’s very easy to snipe about Hollywood for nurturing the Zack Snyders of this world but we forget that for every ten of them, we get a Christopher Nolan or a David Fincher. Amidst a largely solid C.V. of features including Se7en and The Social Network, this is comfortably Fincher’s greatest work and one of the great films of the last decade.
Not wasting a second of it’s 162 minutes, the film plunges into retelling the unsolved case of the Zodiac killer who terrorised San Francisco for almost three decades. This is told through the eyes of cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), journo Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Inspector Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). The investigators wade through an oceanic swamp of red herrings and red tape, trying to place the suspects at the scene of any crime possible. The sprawling yet flawless cast guides us through this expositionary quicksand with intelligence and clarity as characters come and go and the case rolls on and on.
The key to the film lies in the line; “I need to know who he is… I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him!” Graysmith says these words, possibly already even knowing that he’s never going to get an official answer.
That is what this film is about, our desire for some kind of closure – in our own minds if nothing else. When justice has gone out the window, we console ourselves with whatever ends we can grab at. Why do we still buy organically-farmed nappies when the polar ice caps are melting? Why does my Dad still support West Ham when that’s clearly pointless? Maybe it’s that thrill of the chase… and a certain amount of morbid curiosity that’s in all of us. Typically handsomely shot and perfectly paced, the film stands up to repeat viewings and comes out, if anything, smarter and more complete, unlike the case. Like the titular nutter himself, this film is meticulous, methodical and utterly fascinating.