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Let’s Unpack How Zodiac Is a Comfort Movie

Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac

My favorite thing to yell from the rooftops is that the 2007 film Zodiac is my comfort movie. For many, that doesn’t make any sense, mainly because it’s a movie based on the gruesome murders in the San Francisco area in the late 1960s, and who wants to be comforted by something like that? Well, I do.

But someone pointed out on good ol’ Twitter why Zodiac works to comfort us all.

At its core, the movie is just people doing their job to the best of their abilities and trying to figure out who is murdering these people. Even when they’re failing, they’re still trying their best, and there is comfort in that because, more often than not, we watch movies where people are struggling with their careers and their jobs and making sure they try their best even if they’re not great at it.

So, Zodiac kind of flips that and showing people who are doing well at their chosen careers just calms us. And look, Zodiac is filled with a perfect look at late ’60s, early ’70s fashion in a way that makes me feel at peace?

It also helps that the movie is also just … very well made.

The story of the Zodiac Killer is one that we know quite a bit about while also knowing nothing, which is, probably, the draw of the story in general. We know about the killings, and we know about the letters and the things that he did with the press, but we know nothing about the actual killer.

So part of the draw to this movie is exploring more of who he was and what was happening during that time, while also being surprisingly funny. I often talk about Zodiac because it is just one of those movies that never really leaves us despite the fact that it’s a story many of us were already aware of before its release.

I guess, when trying to figure out why it’s a comfort movie, it also makes us look at ourselves. I find some sort of comfort in the fact that there are good people out there who are trying their hardest to stop the darkness of this world. Yes, Zodiac is frightening, but there are characters like Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), and detective David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) who just want to make sure that this killer is caught and behind bars.

So, yes, Zodiac is my comfort movie, but I now feel better that I’m clearly not alone in this, and maybe that’s just because we like suspenders and fun outfits or people doing their jobs. Whatever it may be, I’m going to go watch it again just to soothe me.

(image: Paramount Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.