Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"Gossip and news have always been the same thing." Discuss.

One step up from the serial slasher flick is the college whodunit, a little more sophisticated, a little less messy.

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Three friends share a studio loft. Derrick (James Marsden) is so darned good-looking, he doesn't have to flutter his eyelashes to get laid. Jones (Lena Headey) is sensibly Anglo Saxon and attractive in a don't-touch-unless-you've-washed kind of way. Travis (Norman Reedus) is an artist who dislikes conversation almost as much as student revelry.

Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) is an arrogant little rich girl, who doesn't have sex on the first, second, third or fourth date. She doesn't on the fifth, either. After a party, in which Derrick has secretly witnessed Naomi's boyfriend, Beau (Joshua Jackson), try to get it on and be firmly rejected, he and Jones spread a rumour that they did it, thus destroying Naomi's reputation as a professional virgin.

The malicious lie proves their point about gossip and news. Beau is arrested for attempted rape and not long afterwards a death is reported, which the police treat as murder. Also, Jones discovers an interesting fact that links Naomi and Derrick to the same high school.

Marsden, last seen as Cyclops in X-Men, has the screen presence of Matt Damon when he first appeared, perhaps even stronger. He gives Derrick the sex appeal of a natural charmer and yet underlies it with a streak of ruthlessness. Headey, in her first Hollywood movie, isn't given the opportunity to be anything more than a nice girl with brains, who plays detective behind her friends' backs. She remains, as always, beautifully idiosyncratic, unlike Hudson who conforms to the image of campus blonde airhead.

The twists in the plot have a satisfactory gloss to them, as if the element of surprise is a new cocktail. The denouement, however, goes too far. The best gossip is just credible. At the end, this isn't.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Rumour spirals out of control on a college campus.
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Director: Davis Guggenheim

Writer: Gregory Poirier, Theresa Rebeck

Starring: James Marsden, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Kate Hudson, Eric Bogosian, Edward James Olmos, Joshua Jackson

Year: 2000

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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