Directed by: Aaron Katz | 89 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee, Ricki Lake, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Jessica Parker Kennedy, James Ransone, Todd Louiso, Marianne Rendón, Abraham Lim, Gabriela Flores
Films that rely entirely on setting the atmosphere and get away with it are rare. Opposite every ‘Drive’ and ‘In the Mood for Love’ are numerous productions that get bogged down in a game of navel-gazing. Making a film that thrives on evoking a state of mind requires expertise and a dose of luck. Director Nicolas Winding Refn shot a classic with ‘Drive’, but was never able to match the magic of that film. Follow-up ‘Only God Forgives’ had the same protagonist (Ryan Gosling), but did not make a dent in a pack of butter. The atmosphere did not come across, so that this film that wanted to set a sultry tone fell into a dull and slow, meaningless nothing. Director Aaron Katz also tried with ‘Gemini’ to look at a film that relies entirely on atmosphere.
‘Gemini’ is set in Los Angeles. A horrific crime puts a strain on the relationship between a steadfast personal assistant (Lola Kirke) and her boss. The assistant tries to solve the mystery. She has to stay ahead of a determined police officer (John Cho) to find out what happened.
Katz has become known as one of the founders of the movement mumblecore. This genre designation means that these (often) low budget films mainly revolve around dialogue and natural acting. The plot isn’t that important. In ‘Gemini’ Katz shifts his focus on storytelling to evoking atmosphere. He does this by using a jazzy soundtrack and moody neon light. Los Angeles also plays a prominent role in this film. This city unites glamor and decay.
Katz’s directing is surprisingly good. He had a bigger budget available while making this movie and it shows. ‘Gemini’ looks nice. The use of color is moody and the soundtrack is also perfectly fine. The cast is more than decent and takes this film to the next level. The wafer-thin script is the film’s biggest stumbling block. The characters, locations and atmosphere are just not interesting enough to captivate from start to finish. The final is therefore disappointing.