Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Three weeks ago we reviewed a numbskull campus thriller called "The Skulls" starring Joshua Jackson & Leslie Bibb. Well, Jackson's back & "Gossip's" got him. This time around, Jackson, as a result of the aforementioned title, is Beau Edson, the alleged rapist of poor little rich girl Naomi Preston played by Kate Hudson. Any resemblance "The Skulls" bore to an actual thriller was strictly coincidental. On the other hand, "Gossip," a much better movie, is film noir in the classic tradition. The canvas here is small & effectively blended with basic ingredients. No one's trying to take over the planet or the country: They're just expressing themselves as artists & campus cut-ups in their own skewed ways.
James Marsden is Derrick, the campus sociopath, who somehow manages to retain the affection & loyalty of his roommates Jones (Lena Headey) & Travis (Norman Reedus). After a party, Derrick comes up with the idea for the three roommates to spread a false rumor about virginal Naomi's sexual liaison with Beau. It's all over campus, with embellishments, the next day. Naomi insists that if she had sex with Beau, it was without her consent, & therefore rape. Beau is dragged off in handcuffs by the police. Jones feels guilty & tells Detective Kelly (Sharon Lawrence) about the gossip prank, but Kelly dismisses her with a warning about obstruction of justice. Jones then attempts damage control with Naomi, but the second Jones mentions Derrick's name, Naomi starts screaming at her & refuses to listen to another word. How come? That's why "Gossip" is noir from the inside out instead of the outside in. Very bad things happen as a result of the cards each player brings to the game & how s/he decides to play them. It's an ugly little game, especially through Derrick's eyes. Convinced that there isn't a woman alive who can resist his dark charms, he is stunned to discover that his prey are still capable of defensive strategy after a moment in his arms.
Marsden can hold his own as an actor, but Jackson, Hudson & Headey still snatch & grab every scene from him, ditto Edward James Olmos as "Detective" Curtis & Eric Bogosian as Professor Goodwin. Kate Hudson clearly has taken Lillian Gish's philosophy to heart: "When you play virgins, you have to work hard. They're all right for five minutes; after that you have to work to hold the interest." Inventively scripted by Gregory Poirrier & imaginatively directed by Davis Guggenheim, "Gossip" will hold your interest.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 4/19/00
"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index
"Movie Magazine International" Home Page