My dad was kind enough to babysit, so Lisa and I went on a date to see Zodiac
. Not sure I'd recommend it as a date movie, but it's been getting such raves. ("A classic," says The New York Times
(I don't think there are any spoilers in the following, but if you're finicky, read this after you've seen the flick.)
I found the movie to be longer than it needed to be, extremely well cast and acted, and beautifully shot. What I was missing was the story.
story. Obviously there is the story of an investigation; and a fine bunch of ensemble acting it is. But what the movie develops (far too late!) into is the story of Robert Graysmith, the novelist who pursues clues in the investigation long afer the police dropped the case for lack of leads. This is the story I felt the movie needed to tell, and didn't.
The tagline to the movie is: there's more than one way to lose your life to a killer. And as Graysmith's investigation continues, he puts his life at risk (will the killer make him a target?) and also his marriage (will his wife stay married to an obsessive?).
That's the point where I start wanting to know why
. Why does Graysmith, a cartoonist, pursue a dead case at the risk of his family and his life? What is he trying to accomplish? Will it make the lambs stop screaming? Is there something he's trying to fix? To avoid? What does he get out of it?
What are the stakes? Why is this personal to him?
I feel that the movie never succeeded in connecting Graysmith to the killer emotionally. It never got into his head or under his skin. And yet if it is going to be his story, that is what it had to do. We watch a drama about someone who's slightly crazy, or flat out nuts, in order to understand what it's like to be
that person. A Beautiful Mind
did a nice job of showing us the insides of the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic.
So, instead, for what felt like two and a half hours, we're just following Graysmith following the clues. And the false leads. And so what? Why should we care? The Zodiac isn't killing anyone new, and as characters in the movie keep reminding us, lots of people get murdered in San Francisco every year. And it's not Graysmith's job to catch the guy, either.
So why are we watching this movie? And why is this an instant classic? What am I missing?
Anyone else care to chip in?
Labels: watching movies