Fantastic Fest Review: ‘GEMINI’ – A moody and subdued noir-mystery

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James Cole Clay // Film Critic

GEMINI

Rated R, 93 min.
Director: Aaron Katz
Cast: Lola Kirke, Zoe Kravitz, Greta LeeRicki LakeJames RansoneNelson FranklinReeve Carney and John Cho

A satisfying mystery boils under the surface, creating tension and a progression of information that causes the plotting and clues to swell into a climax that pieces itself together. Aaron Katz’s noir-esque satire of the Los Angeles film world, GEMINI, is a cool-to-the-touch film that falls into this tradition.

Katz’s casual approach to mystery starts with a slightly co-dependent relationship between a starlet at the height of her career, and her personal assistant as they’re dining at a suburban restaurant. The celebrity, Heather (Zoe Kravitz), is begging her assistant, Jill (Lola Kirke), to get her out of a film role she no longer wants to shoot. Heather is also recovering from a breakup with a Zac Efron level actor (Reeve Carney) while simultaneously hiding a romance with a female pop-star (Greta Lee).

The set up is slowly revealed over the course of their encounter, not with any stylish flurries, but with a deliberate delivery that soothes and brings you in close. This is the first film where Katz has worked with name-actors and doesn’t seems to have an affect on the authenticity of this quiet L.A. story.

During a friendly dining session a super fan (Jessica Parker Kennedy) interrupts Heather and Jill’s “business meeting.” It seems charming enough, and given Heather’s star status, we know TMZ could be plotting around the corner. Katz is too clever to drop any sense of dread on the situation — no daunting music cues, or anything like that. The quiet moments don’t impose emotion on the audience, and while this isn’t necessarily a thriller, there’s something odd going on; we just don’t know where this could go.

Kirke, who has worked in more talkie roles like MISTRESS AMERICA and MOZART IN THE JUNGLE, has a natural way of just existing on the screen, eating up the frame without calling attention to herself as a performer. Kravitz, whose presence lingers over the film, feels right given her ambivalent CoverGirl persona she exudes in mainstream media.

Katz takes us through Jill’s world and her ingenuity to sleuth around to uncover clues that belong in the tabloids. GEMINI finds the mystery irrelevant at times when its greatest strength comes in its moody tempo that co-exists with the hectic backdrop of L.A. There are still aspects of the movie that are worth leaving unspoiled, and even though Kats isn’t interested in finding the most exciting conclusion, there’s a lot to be said for a film that isn’t easily categorized.

GEMINI isn’t going to be easily categorized, but it puts a premium on its storytelling while still remaining a chin-stroking puzzle.

Grade: B

GEMINI has an encore screening on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 4:15 p.m. An official release date it to be announced.