A fascinating trajectory in cinema throughout the last decade has been experiencing the graduation of mumblecore filmmakers voyaging into the more financed realms that their medium has to offer. While some directors have chosen to remain with the comforting boundaries of their work, director Aaron Katz certainly steps away from his habitual range with his latest endeavor, Gemini. Pairing a heavily Raymond Chandler-influenced noirish narrative with the dialectical precision of Lola Kirke, there’s an authentic feeling of innovation for the all too familiar genre.
Kirke’s first foray outside of comedy is a genuine phenomenon to witness. Her rise to indie stardom in 2015’s ever so charming Mistress America exhibited a vast understanding of the actress’ command over the English language. Noah Baumbach continuously draws out the rigidity that he demands from his ensemble in order to capture his characters’ specific patois. The sophisticated control that is she brings to her performance there fully transfers over into the idiosyncratic role Lola Kirke dominates in Gemini. Conquering the subdued nature as the assistant to a paparazzi-engulfed star (Zoë Kravitz), the fastidious screenplay (also penned by Katz) allows for her to truly shine as the character is forced to cope with an unforeseen tragedy.
The abundance of new releases evoking a distinctive neon hue more often than not overshadows the central focus of the film. Katz collaborates for the fourth time with cinematographer Andrew Reed to elicit rich textural imagery of the Los Angeles-set terrain that Gemini occupates. Reed’s conscientious eye behind the camera manages to find a sense of equilibrium between the luminous nightlife and the residential neighborhoods of the city. There is never an overpowering force within the photography to draw the viewer away from its key focus: Kirke’s Jill LeBeau.
Despite the sharp literary influence of Gemini, Katz makes an unusual choice to use Jill as the spotlight for his attention. The formal tropes within the “whodunit” subgenre are put aside as a Shakespearian analysis of dynamic character is untangled. It’s an almost unthinkable decision to use noir undertones as a backdrop for what’s purely a character study, but Aaron Katz has crafted such a delicate tale of allure that he somehow manages to pull it all off with ease.