Grown up but still young at heart twins Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter) have just arrived in London after spending time in Mexico with their father, and on ringing the bell of their large town house they are faced with the decidedly non-cheery visage of the housekeeper Mrs McLaren (Daphne Heard) who has no time for their messing about and has strict instructions about which rooms they can and cannot enter. So strict, in fact, that the siblings invent a way to get rid of her, placing their teddy bear on the stairs, breaking her glasses and stepping back to see her take a tumble...
No, these are not the nicest twins ever to grace the screen, although one is better than the other. This was based upon a novel by Jenni Hall, and was one of many British psychodramas which arrived at the stage where the sixties turned to the seventies, as if the country was deeply concerned about where the nation's head was at now that the hippy dream was being shown up in the cold light of the next decade as not all it was cracked up to be. All that optimism of changing times was souring and these types of movies illustrated an unease more keenly than any number of dry television debates or opinion columns in the newspapers and magazines.
Of course, films like these tended towards the lurid as well, and Goodbye Gemini like those of its ilk could easily operate on a horror movie level as well as a character study. There's an incestuous desire that Julian has for his sister that she does not share, marking her out as the sane one although that is purely relative under these circumstances as you'll see. Therefore when Jacki goes off with someone they meet in a pub and appears to be interested in him, it's Julian's cue to go ever more round the bend. It doesn't help that the young man is a rogue who is out to exploit those around him for money, and the twins we can surmise are not short of cash, indeed they seem to be living off their parents.
The young man is Clive, played by Alexis Kanner, an interesting actor best known for his guest appearances on television in The Prisoner; he was undeniably talented as you can perceive from his charismatic but dissolute turn here, but rarely got the parts that showed what he could have done in a starring role. He's only one of many familiar faces in Goodbye Gemini, as the biggest name here, Michael Redgrave, shows up as a left-leaning reformer politician who for some reason attends Clive's parties, although the star never looks entirely comfortable there - or anywhere in the film at all, for that matter. He will become important later on once events take a darker turn.
Yes, even darker than they started with as you will be anticipating a murder to happen along eventually, and you're not disappointed. Before that, Clive must find funds for his gambling debts - he owes a lot of money to Mike Pratt of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), in a gangster role - and opts for blackmail as not only does he get Julian raped by a couple of transvestites, but takes quite a few photographs of it as well. There's a curious thread of sexual confusion running through the film, from details like the stripper in the pub the characters visit being a drag act, to Jacki's disguise as a boy once things are getting tough, and of course the queasy attraction Julian has for her. All of this points to a malaise not only in the personalities who populate the story, but in the society they inhabit, making for an intriguing yet uneasy atmosphere to a film that perhaps seems better than it is, but commands the attention throughout. Music by Christopher Gunning: the score and its songs have become a cult item in their own right.