This weekend, Twitter followers of novelist Bret Easton Ellis were treated to BEE’s views on the films of director David Fincher, with particular consideration paid to Fincher’s overlooked (by audiences, at least) 2007 film Zodiac. I liked Ellis’s commentary, not just because I think he’s spot on here, but also because he points out why so many people might not have liked (or, dare I say “got”) Zodiac on first viewing: the movie was mismarketed. Here’s BEE—
In my original review of Zodiac, I pointed to my own early misunderstanding of what the film was—
When Zodiac came out last year, I prejudicially–and wrongly–assumed that the film, the tale of the infamous Zodiac killer who menaced California in the late sixties and early seventies, would be a moody character study, all ominous texture, smoggy chase scenes, and desperate anger à la Fincher’s 1995 thriller, Se7en (that movie where Gwyneth Paltrow’s head gets chopped off), or even worse, Fincher’s awful 1997 effort The Game. Most Hollywood suspense films–Fincher’s included–propel themselves on chase sequences, meaningless yelling, and overstated light and music queues that seem to scream “this is the part where you feel tense.” Zodiac, however, eschews all of these often vacuous tropes in favor of simply telling a story.
Zodiac is a methodical, investigative procedural about truth, a film that looks at what happens when we try to put order to disorder, when we try to give narrative to life’s loose ends—when we try to understand radically stochastic violence. In retrospect, it seems to me that Fincher’s work here is akin to Roberto Bolaño in some ways, and I think that if people went into it understanding that it was going to be a meditation on truth, and not, say, a cops and robbers thriller, they might appreciate it more (for what it’s worth, several people wrote in on my review to tell me how wrong I was about what I liked about the film. I think, like Ellis, they should give it another shot).