Gossip: Movie Review

gossipI originally saw Gossip in late 2000, when I was in college and working part time for a video store. I often got it confused with another Joshua Jackson movie Skulls because come on, it was in the era of Dawson’s Creek and I was all about Joshua Jackson, although admittedly, he took more of a supporting role in this one. I caught Gossip again on HBO and I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover that the random supporting cast actually consisted of present day television’s most badass actors — Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones) and Daryl (Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead).
There is a reason why teen movies in the 90s to the early 2000s were the best. In the 80s, it was all about teenage angst and coming of age, but in the 90s, RomComs, slashers and teen dramas seemed to have arrived. It spoke to Generation Y, and what was sweet and rebellious evolved into something cool and badass. Gossip is part of this evolved landscape.
Communication students Derrick Webb (James Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey) and Travis (Norman Reedus) are living typical college life when they come up with a plot to spread nasty gossip about popular girl Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson), who is believed to be saving herself for marriage. At first, it was out of curiosity about how far the gossip would go but pretty soon, the rumors spin out of control and her boyfriend Beau (Joshua Jackson) is being accused of rape. When police begin to investigate, new motives surface and more details are revealed about Derrick and Naomi’s past.
What’s great about Gossip is the number of twists and turns the story takes. It starts out really simple and begins to become complicated as more layers are revealed to the story, and more dimensions are unveiled about the characters. I liked Derrick’s character, in particular despite the fact that he was obviously a jerk because for a person who was gunning for character assassination, he was very concerned about his own reputation. There were times that I was actually feeling sorry for him despite his flawed logic because James Marsden was able to communicate effectively the fragility of his character’s self esteem. Lena Headey and Norman Reedus were just starting out when this film came out and despite their meaty roles, the natural grit that they now command in their performances were missing from their portrayals for the movie. This is not to say that they did a pretty good job, still.
The thing that makes Gossip stand out, even 14 years after it originally came out was the fact that there were so many questions raised in the story. Questions like who was the real victim? What was the real motive? Did he or didn’t he? — that it gets the audiences so confused yet on board to know the answers to these questions. Most movies nowadays start laying out the foundations to ambitious complexities yet fail to see their stories through, leaving a lot of plotlines unanswered. Gossip started small and stretched the story like a rubber band, but brought it back before the band snapped so that all of the questions that they set out to conclude were done.
And for the characters who were caught in a whirlwind of lies, their humanity shines through in the tough situations they encountered and the fact that they responded in different ways made the movie more interesting.
Gossip is a movie that makes people doubt their theories and makes people suspect even the most innocent character. Its a movie that keeps its audiences on their toes. The fact that director Davis Guggenheim (Training Day, Alias, The Inconvenient Truth) was able to accomplish all this and present the movie as a cool teen flick, with smart dialogue and an amazing soundtrack is a mark of pure awesomeness.