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Movie Review: ‘Gemini’ is a Satisfying Light-and-Dark Neo-Noir

CREDIT: NEON

Starring: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho

Director: Aaron Katz

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Rating: R for Easygoing, Friendly Profanity and a Bloody Crime Scene

Release Date: March 30, 2018 (Limited)

What if you suddenly discovered that your life has turned into a movie? That’s essentially the same question as: what if you found yourself in the most extreme and unusual of circumstances? As one character in the neo-noir murder mystery Gemini puts it, the most likely culprit is the one with the motive, the opportunity, and the capacity. And there just so happens to be a perfectly creepy guy who fits all the criteria. But if this is a movie, then it might be the craziest, least obvious suspect who turns out to be the culprit. Occam’s razor may give you the right answer nine times out of ten, but that other 10% is where lies the basis for exciting, unpredictable films. Gemini is kind of enjoyably self-aware about that, but only as much as it can be when its leads are a couple of way-out-of-their-depth young adults.

Heather (Zoë Kravitz) is a young actress who is burnt out by the business in her twenties. The presentation of her world is vague to the point that we never get a full sense of just how famous she is, but we do know that she is enough of a star to have a sizable Instagram following and overaggressive fans approaching her in diners. Gemini could have just been a hangout movie depicting the carefree days of Heather and her assistant Jill (Lola Kirke), who are referred to as “freaky, fucked-up best friends,” the kind who “kill each other all the time.” But really, their friendship is genuine and supportive, and while they may keep secrets from each other, that is to be expected when living in a mostly empty mansion in a populous but often lonely city and working in a frequently soul-sucking industry. So when Jill finds Heather dead by gunshot wound, what should be a personal tragedy instead plays out as a hazy detour into purgatory.

If this were a film about millennial self-actualization, Jill would probably be a total boss, and Heather would be right by her side for the majority of the runtime. But instead, Jill does her best to adapt to her new noir status quo. She does some fine investigative work of her own and her psyche holds up well against the withering glare of the lead detective (John Cho, giving an intense performance marked by enigmatic motivation) who clearly suspects that she might be the killer. But she also has moments of silliness, like adopting a disguise that really doesn’t help her out in any capacity, and she gets called out for that pointlessness. Overall, writer/director Aaron Katz pulls off a remarkable tonal balance, utilizing Keegan DeWitt’s jazzy trip-hop score and Andrew Reed’s oppressive cinematography to firmly establish the devastation inherent in the premise while also maintaining a comedic lightness drawn from basic truths of characterization and performance. There is a lot of self-confidence on display here, and that goes a long way.

Gemini is Recommended If You Like: Mulholland Drive, Nerve, References to ’90s pop culture touchstones

Grade: 3.75 out of 5 Blond Wigs

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