Jill LeBeau (Lola Kirke) has plenty to occupy her time, especially as the assistant to a successful Hollywood starlet, and at the moment more than ever since she has been juggling the various aspects of the private and professional lives of Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz) as they grow ever more demanding. Heather has just split up with her boyfriend, also a celebrity, and now she appears to be suffering some kind of confidence crisis that has prompted her to back out of a major deal for a starring role in a big movie. As far as Jill can see, the only thing that's making her happy is her friendship with Tracy (Greta Lee) which may be moving further - and don't the tabloids love that?
Gemini started out as a sharp-witted look at Hollywood mores in the twenty-first century, where you’re a nobody unless you have fans and a heavy internet presence you can delete and reactivate to generate the maximum interest in what was going on in your head. Writer and director Aaron Katz was not the first to suggest slavishly dedicating your life to following your favourite celebrity was a poor use of your time, but he did go on to conclude the whole atmosphere of Tinseltown was a toxic one which rendered its denizens so self-centred that not only did they believe they could get away with any kind of behaviour they pleased, but they were actively encouraged to do so.
Nobody explicitly says, you too can be famous, just use an association with someone with a level of talent somewhere above your own and piggyback on that, Hell, even murdering them will achieve that, yet this was the sinister angle Katz found to what starts out as a stinging observation with a humorous tone on Hollywood types you imagine he had encountered over his career, no matter that he worked in the indie market with low-key, low profile efforts. For around the first half hour you would never know he was working up to a twist that pivoted around the discovery of a dead body, with nicely pitched performances from Kirke and Kravitz sketching a relationship we could understand.
Heather treats Jill as her best friend, indeed she comes out and calls her that, yet it is a curious friendship when she is effectively paying her to hang around with her and take care of her organising throughout the day. This was portrayed with such authenticity that when the plot took a dip into thriller territory, it was almost a pity since we had been enjoying being around these women and their peculiar arrangements: we could kid ourselves the film was commenting on real celebrities and how they went about their private lives. This was particularly notable when Heather seemed so vulnerable that we could also kid ourselves we'd make a very good assistant/best pal to our preferred celebs, there to boost their confidence, wipe away any tears, or usher away anyone who may do them damage.
All that was very consciously delivered, and Katz's awareness of space, almost constantly moving his players through neon-lit streets or swanky but hollow apartments, was one of the film's strongest suits, serving up an art film take reminiscent of Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, unmistakably once the crime plot made its presence felt. There was also a dosage of Brian De Palma, not so much in specific plot elements, more in the manner that style was as important as substance, never mind there was a double twist that you may be able to guess, but that did not make it any the less worth ruminating over. The notion that to keep yourself at the top involves increasingly desperate actions, to the extent your public would desert you if you didn't keep feeding them with scandals and gossip, quite apart from your actual work which in a sane state of affairs would be enough to sustain their interest, was a potent one, and Gemini was neither the first nor the last to draw that conclusion. Moody electro-music by Keegan DeWitt, a neat commentary on souls traded and lost.