Is Zodiac David Fincher’s masterpiece? For such an accomplished director, it’s always difficult to choose a singular magnum opus, but Zodiac might just fit the bill. Zodiac came out in 2007, the same year as No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood; I suspect that, had Zodiac come out in any other year, it might be remembered, and hailed, as an important classic. But, falling as it did against such strong competition, Zodiac perhaps avoided the acclaim that it might otherwise have been afforded. It’s a real shame.
Zodiac is, in many ways, a deconstruction of the serial killer film genre that Fincher previously explored in Se7en. In Zodiac, there is no one dogged detective who uses intrepid wit to solve the case, and we’re never sure if we’ve even met the serial killer. The policework depicted in Zodiac is the procedural morass of bureaucracy and legal challenges preventing the protagonists from obtaining key pieces of evidence, and though the film spans over a 23-year period, it offers no answers – at least none satisfying enough to resolve one of the great mysteries of modern crime mythology. Instead, we’re left with broken individuals, lives destroyed by obsession.