US / 93 minutes / color / Stage 6, Filmscience, Syncopated, Pastel, Rough House, Neon Dir & Scr: Aaron Katz Pr: Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski Cine: Andrew Reed Cast: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee, Ricki Lake, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Jessica Parker Kennedy, James Ransone, Todd Louiso, Marianne Rendón.
Zoë Kravitz (left) as Heather Anderson (left) and Jessica Parker Kenndedy as fan Sierra.
Hollywood movies about the tawdry glamor of Hollywood and the movies always run the risk of seeming masturbatorily self-referential—who’s really interested in the doings of grossly overpaid and often talentless people except other grossly overpaid and often talentless people?—but this one manages to get around that problem, probably through its focus on the less flamboyant end of Tinseltown, where no one’s rolling in money and stardom is a relative attribute.
Heather Anderson (Kravitz) is an indulged and self-indulgent minor movie star with enough of a cult following that she feels able to piss off producers and is occasionally recognized in public.
Lola Kirke as Jill.
One such fan, the creepily obsessive, over-effusive Sierra (Kennedy), approaches her in the diner where Heather and her minder, Jill LeBeau (Kirke)—the person who does most of the indulging that Heather so craves—are discussing how they’d just screwed up movie producer Greg (Franklin).
That night Heather becomes increasingly convinced she’s being stalked. Jill, who has a sort of sisterly love for Heather but at the same time is clear-eyed about her, assumes she’s just being a bit narcissistically paranoid. Next day, though, Jill finds herself being treated by sympathetic yet obviously relentless Detective Edward Ahn (Cho) as Suspect #1 for the murder of her boss.
Greta Lee as Tracy.
With the cops barking up all the wrong trees, it’s down to Jill to solve the murder before she’s arrested for it. She interviews Greg, Heather’s agent Jamie (Forbes), Heather’s recently dumped boyfriend, Devin (Craney), Heather’s girlfriend, Tracy (Lee), and more, before finally unravelling the truth of what’s been going on.
John Cho as Detective Ahn interviewing Lola Kirke as Jill.
Or does she? In the movie’s ambiguous finale we get the impression that Jill knows a different truth than the one that’s been presented to us, and that Detective Ahn is hot on the trail of that truth.
This was nominated as best feature at the Chicago and Locarno independent film festivals, and it’s not hard to see why. The movie’s quite beautifully made and very well acted, with Kravitz, Cho and Kennedy (in her small role) shining and an electrifying performance from Lola Kirke holding the whole thing together. The ambiguity of its ending ensures this is one of those movies you’re likely to want to chatter about afterwards. At the same time, the pacing seems in places a bit suspect and I for one never found myself fully drawn into the proceedings: I had huge sympathies for Jill in her predicament yet I didn’t feel I was there alongside her.
Though it’s not one for the ages, Gemini, despite a major central implausibility, is certainly worth its hour and a half, and there’s a great deal to like about it.
Michelle Forbes as Jamie.