Monday, 11 June 2007

zodiac [dir david fincher]

My friends saw Zodiac at the Ritzy. Approximately two hours in, the projector broke. The film had to be abandoned. People were fuming. My friend told me that one member of the audience shouted: I don't want a refund, just tell me who's the Zodiac!

You can understand the frustration. After about two hours of this two and a half hour film this really did seem to be the only reason left for watching to the end. The most charismatic character had shuffled off an age ago to become a drunkard on a boat; the obsessive cartoonist's marriage was done; the copper was already a has been. All this and we were still a good twenty minutes from discovering the identity of the killer.

Which kind of explains why, worthy, intelligent, and well-made though it may be, Zodiac fails to follow in the footsteps of Fincher's finest work. There are too many protagonists. It's a movie that can't seem to decide whose movie it is. It seems as though Jake Gyllenhaal's cartoonist should be the epicentre of the action, but his journey is constantly interrupted by the cops and the pressmen and the red herrings.

All of which also takes a long time to tell. Zodiac is never quite dull, but it's hardly gripping either. I saw it on a wet Sunday afternoon in Fulham, which seems about right. It contains time, rather than absorbing it. The problem lies in the script. It's adapted from Robert Graysmith's books on the Zodiac. Graysmith is the obsessive cartoonist played by Gyllenhaal in the movie. But where literature can freely skate across timeframes and societal change, cinema often struggles. The screenplay seems to want to keep it all in, and the movie seems over-extended as a result. It can't contain the changes that occur in the various characters' lives. After two hours, all's that's left is the question the film begins with: Who is the Zodiac?