USA/Australia 2000

Reviewed by Edward Lawrenson


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

US, the present. Students Cathy Jones, Derrick Webb and Travis share a flat. At a party, Derrick observes the arrival of Naomi Preston, daughter of a wealthy businessman, and her boyfriend Beau Edson. Spying on the two in a bedroom, Derrick watches Naomi and Beau smooch before Naomi drunkenly falls asleep. Later, Cathy, Derrick and Travis agree to spread a rumour that Beau and the reputedly chaste Naomi had sex that night, and to write up the effects of this falsehood as an assignment for one of their lecturers, Professor Goodwin.

The rumour spreads and soon reaches Naomi. With no memory of the event, she contacts the police, who charge Beau with rape. Cathy admits to the authorities that she made up the rumour, but they refuse to believe her. Later, she discovers Derrick went to the same high school as Naomi. After having sex with Derrick, she travels to his old school; looking through the past year-books, she deduces that Derrick and Naomi were a couple. When asked about this, Derrick admits to spreading the rumour because Naomi accused him - falsely, he says - of raping her. Derrick then visits Naomi and admits he, not Beau, raped her that night.

Back in the flat, Travis tells Derrick that Naomi has committed suicide. Some time later, a detective, Curtis, turns up to question Derrick about Naomi's death, which he's treating as homicide. With the net closing in, Derrick attempts to flee, but Travis pulls a gun on him. In the ensuing struggle, Cathy is accidentally shot. Derrick then angrily admits to raping Naomi, at which point Travis and Cathy - whose injuries were simulated - admit to pretending that Naomi had killed herself and faking a police inquiry in order to coax this confession, which they secretly filmed, out of Derrick.


There's a moment in Gossip when rich college kid Derrick tells his flatmate Cathy to stop worrying. The two are responsible for spreading a rumour - which they know to be false - about their fellow student, the glamorous Naomi Preston. Except what started out as a mischievous prank has turned nasty, landing Naomi's boyfriend Beau in jail for rape. "This is an ugly turn," Cathy remarks, with some understatement, but Derrick is unfazed: "It's all just words," he says. He's wrong, of course: as played by James Marsden, Derrick is a smoothly amoral character with a nice line in Nietzschien asides ("Naomi's weak, she's always been weak" is his chilly reaction to her apparent suicide). And it's pretty clear from early on in the film that he's the villain of the piece, for all his emollient delivery and simulated sincerity.

The screenplay by Gregory Poirier and Theresa Rebeck is thick with intrigue and elaborate attempts to wrongfoot the audience. In the film's final reel, the sky is inky black and the rain unrelenting - but while the weather is pure noir, Gossip's characters lack the moral ambiguity for Poirier's myriad plot turns to work. Derrick is slick but untrustworthy (even his sumptuous apartment, packed with designer desirables, points an accusatory finger at him, as if he's house-sitting for American Psycho's Patrick Bateman); Cathy might indulge in the odd student prank, but there's a wholesome decency about her character which is barely dented by the events of the film (she comes from Plymouth Rock, and Derrick needles her about her "pilgrimatic" sense of moral rectitude); and the last of the gossip-mongers, Travis, an art student who spends most of the film creating a rather tacky collage about the guilty consequences of the rumour he helped spread, is too much the mousy, sensitive type to be embroiled in any dark double-dealing.

Gossip's one standout moment is a montage sequence, handled with some flair by director Davis Guggenheim (who worked on episodes of ER and NYPD Blue), depicting the way the rumour about Naomi spreads across campus: accompanied by Graeme Revell's frantic orchestration, the fairly unremarkable news that the supposedly chaste Naomi and her boyfriend had sex at a college party is embellished with sordid details, whipped up into a scandal as it passes from one mouth to the other (filmed in tight close-up). As with the rest of the film, the dialogue here is smart, the one-liners zippy, the caustic asides piercing; but there's something sadly apt about all this disembodied gabbing. Predictable at every turn, glossy but stagy, and full of unengaging, underdeveloped characters, Gossip too is "all just words".


Davis Guggenheim
Jeffrey Silver
Bobby Newmyer
Gregory Poirier
Theresa Rebeck
Gregory Poirier
Director of Photography
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Jay Cassidy
Production Designer
David Nichols
Graeme Revell
©Warner Bros.
Production Companies
Warner Bros. presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures/NPV
Entertainment an Outlaw production
Executive Producers
Joel Schumacher
Bruce Berman
John M. Eckert
Associate Producer
Susan E. Novick
Production Co-ordinator
Lori Greenberg
Unit Production Manager
John M. Eckert
Location Manager
Keith Large
Assistant Directors
Tyrone Mason
Simon Board
Stephen J. Morrison
Cassandra Cronenberg
Script Supervisor
Daniela Saioni
Lora Kennedy
Diane Kerbel
Camera Operators
Kevin Jewison
Keith Murphy
Keith Murphy
Visual Effects
Balsmeyer & Everett
Special Effects
Martin Malivoire
Kaz Kobielski
Jason Board
Art Director
Vlasta Svoboda
Set Decorators
Michelle Convey
Enrico A. Campana
Collage Artist
Robert Reinhardt
Collage Photographer
Lara Porzak
Key Scenic Artist
Cameron Brooke
Costume Designer
Louise Mingenbach
Wardrobe Supervisor
Susan MacLeod
Key Make-up
Marilyn Terry
Key Hair
Veronica Ciandre
Title Design
Susan Bradley
Pacific Title
Tim Simonec
Music Supervisor
John Houlihan
Music Editors
Ashley Revell
Angie Rubin
Music Score Programmer
David Russo
Music Mixers
John Kurlander
Mark Curry
"Our Lips Are Sealed" - Poe; "Tape Loop" - Morcheeba; "Crash!" based on "At the Sign of the Swingin' Cymbal"
- Propellerheads; "From Your Mouth" - God Lives Underwater; "Head" - Tin Star; "Thorazine" - Danny Sabel; "Panik Kontrol" - Psykonsonik; "Skullsplitter" - Hednoize; "The Look of Love" - Dusty Springfield; "Disconnected Child" - Tin Star; "After All" - Marti Frederiksen; "Serge" - The Folk Implosion, includes samples from "Requiem pour un con" - Serge Gainsbourg; "You Don't Know" - Curve; "Glow" - James Marsden; "Mean to Me" - Tonic
Clarence Ford
Sound Mixer
Douglas Ganton
Re-recording Mixers
Rick Alexander
Christian P. Minkler
Supervising Sound Editor
George Simpson
Sound Editors
David A. Whittaker
David E. Stone
Elliott Koretz
Thomas J. O'Connell
Supervising Editor:
Michael J. Benavente
Alyson Dee Moore
David Lee Fein
Marilyn Graf Hubbard
Michael Chock
Stunt Co-ordinator
John Stoneham Jr
James Marsden
Derrick Webb
Lena Headey
Cathy Jones
Norman Reedus
Kate Hudson
Naomi Preston
Marisa Coughlan
Sharon Lawrence
Detective Kelly
Eric Bogosian
Professor Goodwin
Edward James Olmos
Detective Curtis
Joshua Jackson
Beau Edson
Kwok-Wing Leung
Chinese man
female singer
Vicky Lambert
Kenya Massey
club dancers
Noam Jenkins
Stephanie Mills
Rebecca Lewis
Raven Dauda
Kristin Booth
Novie Edwards
Ms Waters
Shanly Trinidad
Samantha Espie
Christopher Ralph
Kristen Holdenried
Deborah Pollitt
Balazs Koos
Robin Brülé
Sadie LeBlanc
Elizabeth Guber
Roman Podhora
Detective Ayers
Marc Hickox
Jessica Greco
Alexia Landeau
Bill Lake
Lieutenant Miles
David Nichols
Professor Vindaloo
Sanjay Talwar
taxi driver
Timm Zemanek
high school principal
Norma Dell'Agnese
Danbury typist
Mairon Bennett
Marc Cohen
Officer Stevens
Charles Guggenheim
Derrick's father
Marion Guggenheim
Derrick's mother
John Wills Martin
the stranger
Warner Bros Distributors (UK)
8,121 feet
90 minutes 14 seconds
Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS
In Colour
Prints by
2.35:1 [Super 35]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011