SXSW 2017 Review: Gemini is a Who Cares Whodunit.
Gemini is the latest film from writer/director Aaron Katz. His previous film, Land Ho received a lot of praise at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was a unique story about two older brothers that ended up taking a random trip to Iceland together. Having watched some of Katz’s previous films, I was curious to see this follow-up since it seemed much different than anything he had ever done before.
Lola Kirke plays Jill, a personal assistant to Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz), an actress looking to take a break from her busy celebrity lifestyle. Jill works hard at her job while hoping to ease the pressures of Heather’s hectic lifestyle by talking to her colleagues about her upcoming projects. While all this is going on, an incident occurs that leads to Jill becoming the principal subject of a murder investigation. Now, it is up to Jill to unravel the mystery and find out who is responsible for the heinous crime and their motive before detective Edward Ahn (John Cho) arrests her for a crime that she didn’t commit.
With a runtime of only 93-minutes, Gemini is one of the most painfully boring films that I have seen in quite some time. The idea of a young celebrity being sick of limelight should have made for a somewhat interesting tale but sadly that is isn’t the case with Gemini. I find it baffling that the film is considered to be a mystery/thriller when nothing about this story is remotely interesting or intriguing. The entire story falls flat because writer/director Aaron Katz gives the audience nothing to latch onto. Why are we are supposed to be invested in this story? We learn next to nothing about these characters other than they work in the industry and have to deal with the daily grind of living in the spotlight.
All the characters in this film are completely lifeless and just a total bore to watch. After seeing Lola Kirke work alongside Greta Gerwig in Mistress America, I was hoping to see her take on another role that showcased her talent. Kirke’s character Jill walks around from scene to scene trying to uncover this crime with little to no emotion. You know nothing about her as a person other than she was chosen by Heather to be her assistant and that she has to deal with a lot of responsibility. We learn nothing about her as a person, therefore, giving the audience no reason to care about her or this crime she is accused of.
Katz’s story wants to make this huge statement about celebrities and what they can get away with. The sad truth is that the aims to be a lot more clever than it actually is. The film is paced in such a way that there is zero excitement or thrill when watching it. The only scene that actually sparked a reaction from the audience was when Jill accidently fires a gun in Heather’s home and that only lasted for like a minute or less. The grand reveal is incredibly underwhelming and the way the note in which the film ends feels cheap and lazy.
Throughout the film. there are far too many sweeping shots of palm trees and streets. These scenes are made even more unbearable because they are mixed with a score that sounds like it was ripped from 1970’s porn. I understand that Katz is trying to convey the dark side of fame but honestly, he does such a bad job with almost everything because he forgets to give the audience a reason to care about the story that he is ultimately trying to tell.
To put it bluntly, Gemini is a who cares whodunit. It is a mystery thriller without any mystery or thrills. The performances are all one note and the story by Katz does nothing to attract an audience. While there are some scenes where the film does look great, there isn’t much of anything else positive to say about Gemini. I get what Katz was going for but feel like he was trying too hard with this one. I wish I could say that the actors helped save the film because I could tell they were trying but I would be lying. Even John Cho’s character wasn’t given enough to make him stand out. I am really surprised by how much I disliked this film and how bored I was with it. I was hoping for a great independent thriller with social commentary but instead got a bland artsy film that lacked any sort of intrigue.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s final rating for Gemini is a 4 out of 10.