“I lie much better than you tell the truth,” says Derrick (James Marsden) to his roommate, Jones (Lena Headey). Including third wheel Travis (Norman Reedus), these college students try to establish the bond between real news and gossip for a journalism class. They mastermind a scheme that involves spreading a rumor about a snooty coed (Kate Hudson) and her date (Joshua Jackson), who may have taken her virginity at a party. The plan takes an ugly turn for these martini-swilling club kids, leading to increasingly serious dilemmas. Screenwriters Gregory Poirier and Theresa Rebeck provide a tidy thriller that has one dippy plot twist too many but is diverting enough to not be casually dismissed as a big-screen Dawson’s Creek episode. Director Davis Guggenheim tries to inject more than the recommended limit of fancy camerawork, jarring edits, and hipster soundtrack singles into his film, and the outrageous art direction is especially eye-popping in its absurdity. Derrick’s apparent 50,000-square-foot apartment is passed off as the result of his trust fund, but it would have to be a trust fund from OPEC to afford this. (And why does he need roommates, especially if one works at a coffee shop and the other is unemployed? They aren’t likely to significantly reduce the rent.) At its core, Gossip is an interesting idea that is presented with too many distracting visual elements. Though it is reasonably effective as a morality tale on the dangers of spreading a rumor, it is even more pertinent to the perils of burying a worthy screenplay under layers of big-budget gloss. (R) Rating: 5

Categories: Movies