What makes “Zodiac” authentic is the way it avoids chases, shootouts, grandstanding and false climaxes, and just follows the methodical progress of police work. Just as Woodward and Bernstein knocked on many doors and made many phone calls and met many very odd people, so do the cops and Graysmith walk down strange pathways in their investigation. Because Graysmith is unarmed and civilian, we become genuinely worried about his naivete and risk-taking, especially during a trip to a basement. Zodiac feels long not because the pacing lags but because by the time we creep to the two-hour mark, we’re as exhausted as the characters. The procedural stops being a genre and takes hold as a psychological state, and, by the film’s final act, our heads our spinning. But we, like the cartoonist Graysmith, trod forward not because we’re reinvigorated by new clues, but because we must. Zodiac is a seething metaphor for life in the information age, where how one should allocate their priorities is an ever-increasing uncertainty. Graysmith is a grandfather to Aaron Sorkin’s version of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, disconnected from people, himself, and society by drowning in data and the compulsion to master it. Information gathering isn’t a hobby. It’s an addiction. We’re left in a flurry of voices all claiming relevancy and truth, but there’s no light to shine through them. Zodiac is Fincher’s Rashomon, and all that’s left is the deceitful visage of truth; we’re back to Plato’s Cave and all we have are shadows of reality.

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