When journalism professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian) asks, “What’s the difference between news and gossip,” three university students and roommates, Derrick (James Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey), and Travis (Norman Reedus), experiment with the possibilities. At first it gets them a few free drinks in a bar, but when Derrick oversees the openly chaste Naomi (Kate Hudson) drunk and pre-coitus with Beau (Joshua Jackson), he spots a perfect opportunity to take his experiment further. He brings his roommates in on the plot; and soon the entire campus knows that the normally chaste Naomi had sex with Beau. Yet when Naomi has Beau arrested for rape, Derrick, Jones, and Travis become entangled in their own web of lies, forcing deadly secrets to re-surface.
"Did you hear the rumour about the film about how deadly gossip can be? Apparently
it sets up all sorts of interesting ideas and goes nowhere with them. Then again, it seems
to be aimed squarely at the teen market so it didn't try and get too intellectual.
Slickly made but with nothing much to say after the first 15 minutes, Gossip is
bubblegum entertainment for those with a large willingness to suspend disbelief. How else
are we supposed to accept the chic designer warehouse pad occupied by a trio of college
kids who decide to start a rumour as part of their media studies course. Derrick (James
Marsden), Travis (Norman Reedus) and Jones (Lena Headey) start their term project by
hatching a rumour about rich girl Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) who's apparently the only
female student on campus who doesn't "put out". When tongues start wagging about
what Beau (Joshua Jackson) did to her while she was passed out at a party, things turn
nasty and the innocent Beau finds himself on rape charges.
The remainder of the film is occupied by the moral dilemma of rumour monger Jones, who
discovers some not so savoury details about handsome Derrick's past. The treatment here is
as superficial as the tabloid media these kids are studying; every time it looks like real
tension might develop the trash-peddling trio instead reach for another glass of expensive
liquor from Derrick's well stocked bar. The further it progresses the less likely we are
to believe anything (maybe that's the whole point!!) and the denouement on a stormy night
is likely to inspire groans rather than gasps.
Director Davis Guggenheim's experience on episodes of Party of Five is put to good use
in the scenes set in Derrick's impossibly funky apartment but he's much less certain when
it comes to creating mystery and suspense. That it plays ok for high-gloss trash is about
the strongest compliment I could muster.
The extra material is fairly lame; Guggenheim and Marsden goof off most of the time
about vital things like screen kissing technique and the deleted scenes fall into the
"well, it's obvious why they're deleted" category. Just in case you were in
doubt a title informs us these scenes were cut to reduce the length of the film. This
one's okay if you're planning a trash double and have something really juicy like Wild
Things to top the bill. On it's own, however, this isn't much chop".
Published March 22, 2001
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CAST: James Marsden, Kate Hudson, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Marsha
Coughlan, Sharon Lawrence, Joshua Jackson, Eric Bogosian
DIRECTOR: Davis Guggenheim
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: March, 2001
Commentary Track with Director Davis Guggenheim and James Marsden
Cast and Crew Filmographies
"Poe" Music Video for "our Lips Are Sealed"
"Travis' Gossip Interviews"
Subtitles: English (hard of hearing)