Make it a Double: THE BATMAN and GEMINI

“You know how you were saying you don’t feel safe? I feel like that all the time.”

Amidst all the positive Covid cases and numerous shutdowns, The Batman has somehow made it to the big screen, breaking another pandemic box- ffice record and giving audiences a more detective-style caped crusader. The movie’s release has prompted various rankings of past Batman movies on Twitter and even some declarations that The Batman is the first true Oscar contender of 2022.

Everyone within the cast seems to be getting their share of praise, with Zoe Kravitz’s take on Catwoman emerging as one of the most talked about characters of the movie. From being the second woman of color to take on the role, to the actress’s revelation that she saw the character as bisexual, Kravitz’s incarnation of one of the most iconic female comic book figures feels like a game changer. It’s a performance that looks to only elevate her already impressive career, which so far has ranged from the addictive (Big Little Lies) to the provocative (Dope).

If The Batman continues to elevate Kravitz’s profile the way I’m sure it will (the actress is currently ranked #1 on IMDb), it’ll hopefully inspire people to check out Gemini, the 2017 neo-noir mystery that she deceptively dominates.

In Gemini, Kravitz plays Heather, a famous A-list (or at least high B-list) actress navigating her celebrity thanks to the help of her loyal assistant Jill (Lola Kirke). When Jill is too intoxicated to drive them home after a night out, Heather reveals that she fears for her safety at an impromptu sleepover. Her fears turn out to be validated when she turns up dead the next day, leaving Jill to piece together what’s happened to her as she quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Style has always been a huge part of what drives a noir tale and Gemini is a perfect example. Gone are the shadows and the menacing locales which have dominated the genre for so long and in their place is a thriving, if slightly otherworldly, L.A. landscape bursting with vibrancy. Gemini quickly becomes a sun-drenched noir, turning the city into a twisty playground with various puzzle pieces scattered in the most interesting of places. It’s up to Jill to pick up those pieces and decipher them, which the script has her do through a mixture of desperate self-preservation and an unwavering quest to know the truth. It’s this blend of traits that is totally responsible for making the character as watchable a presence as she is. A great amateur detective, an aesthetic that mixes bright colors with old buildings, and a fantastic synth-driven score all conspire to make Gemini one of the best modern noirs of recent years.

The relationship between the two main characters drives the mystery. If you were unaware of Heather’s fame, you would guess the two were childhood friends from their dynamic. Heather is an interesting case: A celebrity who has no use for her fame to the point where she almost resents it. In Jill, she’s found not just an assistant, but a caretaker, best friend, and her very own Jiminy Cricket. But there’s a fondness and affection that exists beyond the roles of boss and loyal assistant. The scene where Heather has to drive both of them home is tender in an odd way. Jill is someone who is happy existing in the background, but Heather’s murder shakes awake her survival instinct.Not only does she want to solve her friend’s murder because of their codependent relationship, but because Jill very quickly realizes that she actually has to be proactive about her own life in a way she hadn’t before.

Kirke and Kravitz carry Gemini and despite all of the film’s various attributes, it’s the chemistry between the two of them which gives it that extra special ingredient. Kirke so naturally takes on the role of the amateur detective, giving a controlled and magnetic performance as she carries much of the film’s intensity on her shoulders. Kravitz matches her well with the haunted quality of a woman who hasn’t been happy with her life in quite some time. Her work in Gemini is some of the most refreshingly raw and unstripped of her career so far.

If you were to take a look at Gemini’s IMDb rating, you would notice it’s rather low, despite a great many positive reviews. There’s little doubt this is due to the fact that the film’s plot is simplistic, yet also defies conventionality in its own sly ways. Its style and character dynamics all pay homage to the classic noirs of the past, while also turning some of the genre’s key elements on their heads. Gemini lies somewhere in between having to work for a mystery and letting the mystery wash over you. It’s a funny space for a movie to exist as it has the potential to frustrate some audiences and totally alienate others. For some special few who choose to fall under its spell, though, the film is an innovative and spellbinding L.A. noir that never misses a beat.

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