It’s sometimes difficult to judge a bad film until you’ve seen a terrible one. When it happens, you see a marker set, a framework develop, a bottom establish itself. Gemini is not quite catastrophic – Sean Penn’s The Last Face will forever hold that mantle – but it’s grim fare. Aaron Katz is the unfortunate director who delivers a celebrity murder mystery thriller so sluggish and tedious that it’s constantly on the edge of tripping over itself. Perhaps this is the point – to subvert the traditions of the neo-noir genre – but if purely an intellectual exercise it’s hardly profound. And without the possible benefit of a cinephile’s obsession, the viewer is left with a ridiculous, stupefyingly dull cat-and-mouse pursuit. This is a whodunit for somnambulists and anoraks.
Jill (Lola Kirke) is a dedicated assistant to the film star Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz). They are more friends than employer and employee. After several disputes with ex-boyfriends, producers, photographers, PRs and super-fans, Jill and Heather eventually return to the latter’s monumental home. The next morning a gun goes off accidentally. Jill leaves, returning later to discover a dead corpse with significant gunshot wounds to the head. The body is barely identifiable, but who could mistake Heather? The police are called, with Detective Edward Ahn (erstwhile burger muncher John Cho with a hilariously ropey performance) taking the case. The list of culprits is long and Jill is ahead of the rest. Understandably shaken, she attempts to decipher the events leading to the attack and in turn establish her innocence. What follows are a string of insulting plot twists, obscene suspensions of belief and jaw-dropping passages of dialogue. Whoever the killer, the screenplay is the purest villain of the piece.
Kirke’s performance is perhaps the most tolerable aspect of the picture. She at least imbues the put-upon Jill with some semblance of depth and autonomy. The dark blue neon aesthetic that opens the title sequence promises a vague delirium akin to Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, but it quickly grates when framing inconsequential shots of automobiles and luxury apartments. Large portions of the film feel like high-end car adverts or previews for an LA edition of Grand Designs. If this is intended to be a satire of celebrity culture – and just repeating the word Instagram doesn’t qualify – then God help us all. What’s the point of aiming in the barrel if the fish has already shot itself?
Gemini does not have a UK release date yet.