Review: A Murder Investigation in Neon and Synth Beats in Gemini

It’s become clear over the years that writer-director Aaron Katz has been making films (including Land Ho! and Cold Weather, to name two of his most recent) that he has no interest in repeating himself as a storyteller. Switching gears once again with Gemini, Katz tells the story of successful young Hollywood actress Heather (Zoë Kravitz) and her personal assistant/best friend Jill (Lola Kirke), who are thrown into the midst of a brutal, bloody crime.

Gemini Image courtesy of Neon

The film takes the time to establish the relationship before diving into anything resembling plot. It’s clear that Heather often uses Jill to deliver messages she herself doesn’t have the guts to deliver, whether it’s refusing to do reshoots for a film or turning down a job she’s already told the filmmaker she’d do. Heather is a horrible person who means well but almost never behaves appropriately.

During one late evening out, they are approached by a super-fan for a photo, but the encounter turns awkward when she begins to ask questions about the nature of their relationship. Heather is also accosted by paparazzi, including a particularly aggressive weasel played by James Ransone. They gather up a third friend, Tracy (Greta Lee), drink and perform karaoke, and even collect a gun that Jill owns because Heather says she doesn’t feel safe.

Shot in seedy neon colors by cinematographer Andrew Reed and fueled by Keegan DeWitt’s pulsating, synth score, Gemini goes from starlet story to something much darker when Jill leaves Heather’s place in the morning to attend yet another meeting her boss is too cowardly to go to and returns shortly thereafter to find Heather dead in a pool of blood, having been shot several times in the face.

The investigating detective (John Cho) suspects Jill of the crime but is having a hard time putting the pieces together. Rather than get jacked up by the cops, Jill decides to don a disguise and solve the crime herself, which leads us on a tour of Heather’s ex-boyfriend (Reeve Carney), jilted business partners, and anyone else who disliked her in recent weeks, which is a sizable list.

It’s difficult to discuss major portions of this film without giving something juicy away, so I’ll just mention that even in death, Heather is a pain in the ass. And the deeper Jill digs, the more guilty she ends up looking. Gemini has a wicked sense of humor but also makes some keen observations about the nature and price of celebrity.

At one point in the investigation, Cho’s character says that he can sense that Jill notices things that others don’t. That makes her a great assistant, always anticipating Heather’s needs, but a difficult person for anyone to deceive or manipulate. This helps her get to the bottom of the murder but also discover the truth about those closest to her. Gemini is as much a sensory experience as a story-driven one, but thanks to an impressive performance by Kirke, it holds things together quite nicely.
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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.