On paper, there is a lot of reasons for me to like Gemini: the mystery premise, the quality talent, the LA noir-ish setting. And, don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad movie, but at the same time, I am not sure I will remember it next week. Which, may very well be its point, as part of its celebrity-is-not-real-anymore premise.
The story, aspirationally, wants to sit somewhere between Mulholland Drive and The Long Goodbye, with a dash of Ingrid Goes West thrown in.
Adam Katz, who previously directed the charmingly lo-fi mystery Cold Weather clearly has a love of the thriller genre, and a reverence for that particular L.A. flavor of noir and it shows.
Heather (Zoe Kravitz) is a starlet (not a star), Jill (Lola Kirke) is her assistant who is good at her job, and therefore, by default, long-suffering in it. Heather is both loved and constantly in trouble, on account of being beautiful and (potentially) talented, but also fickle and selfish, as starlets often are. Jill is forever picking up the pieces and delivering the bad news to people who don’t want bad news. In fact, the first fifteen minutes of the movie set up a world in which the two are constantly interacting with people whose love (need?) for Heather could turn into something not so good, very quickly. So, when that night Heather asks Jill to borrow her gun, and the next morning something bad happens, all bets are, in theory off.
That’s the first third of the movie. The second third involves a police investigation (John Cho is the detective in charge, and always a welcome presence) and a young woman forced reinvent herself in the process of trying to reclaim her identity AND her innocence. The third third involves a reveal, a twist, and you walking away. Because you just didn’t care enough.
The film glimmers in purples and turquoises, spreading itself languidly in front of you like a sinister little snake. The characters are all shimmery surface, purposefully, until some skin is shed. The ideas behind it are clear: In this time of social media and conscious oversharing, how well do we know those we have convinced ourselves we know? How true can our connections to them be? Can we even call our relationships “relation-ships”, or do we need to find a new word for those now? A “ship” feels a little too sturdy of a word for the kind of interactions 2018 brings along, maybe these are more relation-CANOEs?
These ideas are universal, but Los Angeles in particular, feels like a perfect place to put those to test. Gemini joins a sequence of recent, mostly uneven female-driven films tackling this (the aforementioned Ingrid Goes West, but also Neon Demon, and the strongest-by-far Always Shine) but never quite lands the punches it sets out to land.
This is coming to streaming soon enough, and it is fine to wait and check it out there.