Friday, 3 August 2007

review: zodiac (david fincher, 2007)

I watched
Zodiac before Dan started up the blog, so I've been meaning to write a review for quite some time could therefore say that my memory isn't fresh enough to review this film now, and you may be right if you're thinking about doing justice to most of Fincher's work...however, I also have the impression that this just might add to the disturbing sense of fallible memory which comes across in Zodiac.

What I mean is that one of the major strengths of Fincher's Zodiac is its tie to the Post modern narrative: the refusal to settle for final and comfortable explanations. Don't go looking for some neat little Ron Howardesque direction of conspiracy theory in Zodiac...every scene, in both script and action builds upon the increasing over saturation of information which continues to hinder rather than clarify the possibility of achieving some such thing as truth.

I found myself both emotionally involved with the concerns of the main characters, yet still strangely removed from them, like a little fly shaped camera on the wall that can only pick up on their movements but cannot process their meaning. This isn't to say that there is no character development-to the contrary, major figures are always natural, credible, sympathetic and well-rounded rather than just over-paid screen fillers-but our direct closeness to their predicament or obsession reveals its futility and emphasises their place as ciphers in a larger pattern which cannot be proven to exist or not exist.

Everywhere you turn, Zodiac's meticulously woven string of clues, hunches and so-called facts appear to lead to a dead end without resorting to lunatically ridiculous out-of-nowhere plot twists in order to leave the viewer with that "what the heck?!" kind of feeling.

Overall, Zodiac displays a very reduced sense of Fincher's generally over the top flashy camera movement (a style which I'm generally seduced by, I must admit), leaning instead towards a sense of expressive realism and heightened visuals which are well situated within the context of the dramatic action-characters' faces twist into sinister shapes through the shadows and motivations are obscured even by seeming revelations. Coincidences become facts and vice versa, it's a maze without an opening where mundane icons or signs become twisted or perverted for uses beyond their original purpose. In this sense, the influence of Pynchon's cult novel, The Crying of Lot 49, emanates from the film's every frame, yet shares its morbid humour to a lesser extent. [Coincidentally, some *trivia*: Radiohead-big fans of The Crying of Lot 49-were in line to write the soundtrack to Fight Club, but the deal fell through.]

Through time lapse, carried out in the more familiar Fincher style, the investigation drags on for years, each person deteriorating both socially and psychologically in a sometimes kitsch, sometimes noiresque environment-but almost always, the surroundings themselves appear drab with fatigue. The paranoia of the colour noir so evident in Fight Club also remains strong, yet the post modern is evident more often through thematic and narrative development than constantly self-conscious and self-referential form. The move might be predictably described as a growing sense of mature film-making, yet I have no qualms against either style Fincher adopts, each demonstrating both a technical and expressive awareness of the simultaneous oppression/dependence relationship between people and their artificial environment.

Just like our memory and that of every witness blurs, so do the film's conclusions, offering a nagging doubt which you're free to consider or ignore...

Me? I took the bus home after the movie, I stared at the clocks above the bus stops and the cracks in the pavement that night, they all looked a little weirder than did the people walking home quietly. Just a thought, guess it doesn't mean much.

1 comment:

Daniel Vella said...

I already told you but I think it's a very good review - I like reading reviews that offer a subjective viewpoint of the effect of a film. Pretty much agree with your opinion's one of the best films I've seen so far this year and Fincher's third masterpiece.