A film buff’s dream which is a tribute to Alan Pakula’s 1976 film All the President’s Men. The focus is not on the build-up towards a climax which is resolved, but follows the futile way in which a group of reporters become obsessively involved in solving the Zodiac murders. Based on the Robert Graysmith book of the same name which recounts the case of the murders which took place in San Francisco during the 1960s and 70s. Pakula makes direct reference to All the President’s Men through recreated shots, camera angles, and the development of dramatic tension, not to mention the fact that the original scores of both are by David Shire. A film based on a book is not uncommon, but directly making reference to another film, and then including a cinema viewing of the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer by Tom Hanson, makes the circles within circles complete; not to mention the existence of the 2005 The Zodiac which follows the same story and, also in 2005, Zodiac Killer which is loosely based on the same serial killer.
The most interesting aspects of this well-acted film are the way in which it deconstructs a serial killer thriller to the psychological repercussions on would-be secondary characters. Firstly, Robert Downey Jr.’s character is destroyed by his growing obsession, and soon he is followed by Jake Gyllenhaal. That said the traditional sense of climax is symbolically manifested in the reporter’s need to look the killer in the eyes, so that he knows that he is the right person. No dramatic court-case, no baddy gets justice, but the vestiges of a Hollywood ending so as to not displease the audience.
Personally, it is not a film which interested me, but formally interesting, well acted and, like I said, I suppose a three-hour film-buff’s masterpiece.