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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Gossip

Starring: Norman Reedus, James Marsden
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: April 2000
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Kate Hudson, Marisa Coughlin

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

Gossip. While most people wouldn't like to admit it, a juicy rumor has a certain allure--one that is often greater than that of truth. The thriller _Gossip_ takes its promising cue from this idea, but then the film rapidly goes nowhere with it, growing more and more ridiculous with each successive turn of the plot.

_Gossip_'s premise is simple. For a project in their journalism class, university students Derrick (James Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey), and Travis (Norman Reedus) decide to plant and then trace the growth and evolution of a rumor: that freshman Naomi (Kate Hudson), known for her strict attitudes on sex, did the dirty deed with boyfriend Beau (Joshua Jackson) while drunk at a party. While the intent in harmless, the lie quickly takes a life of its own, and soon everyone is suffering from the fallout--not least of which the trio that started the whole mess.

The initial 20 minutes of _Gossip_, in which the three come up with their bright idea and unleash it upon the campus, exploits the potential of the premise. Director Davis Guggenheim employs a creative and succinct way to show how the gossip spreads and mutates: numerous people directly address the camera, recounting the story as they heard it (or, rather, think they heard it). Straight-to-camera confessionals are a bit cliché in the age of _The_Real_World_ and its ilk, but the energized editing captures the excitement that accompanies a particularly enticing piece of hearsay.

But much like how the Naomi-Beau rumor spins out of control, so does _Gossip_. The interesting premise established, Guggenheim and writers Gregory Poirer and Theresa Rebeck proceed to do nothing with it. Before long, the subject that lends _Gossip_ its title comes to bear less importance, and the film becomes a dismayingly conventional thriller where characters end up having secret paths that provide needless added motivation for certain actions. Even on these dumbed-down terms, _Gossip_ falls far short of the mark, but that doesn't stop Guggenheim and company from also making the film a high minded "issue" movie. I won't say exactly what issue (to do so would reveal one of the film's key "twists"), but the film tackles it with a fraction of the depth you'd find in an afterschool special.

The cast certainly doesn't help the not-ready-for-the-big-screen feel. Marsden doesn't do anything here to counter the vacuous _Teen_Beat_ pinup image he projected in _Disturbing_Behavior_; in fact, his performance here is even more embarrassing, making the credibility-straining turns his character undergoes even harder to swallow. Headey is simply miscast on a surface level. She clearly looks much older than the rest of the cast, resembling a mature woman among a group of kids; her American accent is also pretty shaky. Reedus does little to redeem what is already a bad part: an artist who inexplicably finds a new, almost obsessive inspiration in Naomi and her plight. Speaking of Naomi, Hudson is the only person who delivers a slightly credible performance. More seasoned stars, such as Sharon Lawrence, Edward James Olmos (both playing police detectives), and Eric Bogosian (as the journalism professor) are wasted.

It's only fitting that _Gossip_ will undoubtedly fall victim to its own hook. When word-of-mouth spreads--and it will, and quite quickly at that--the film will take a much greater trouncing than the one felt by its mischief-making characters.

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