Stiggy’s Film of the Day Goodbye Gemini (1970).

The story.

Adapted from the novel Ask Agamemnon by Jenni Hall,  Goodbye Gemini is a curious tale of murder, incest, and psychotic obsession, set in swinging 60’s London. Twins Jacki and Julian arrive in London on holiday and take up at their affluent father’s regency abode, from the get-go it becomes glaringly obvious there is something not quite right about this pair; we first set eyes on them in the opening credits on a coach journey into the capital wearing matching yellow jackets and carrying their accomplice Agamemnon the teddy bear who never leaves their side. What sights London has to show them, after quickly meeting up with no good Clive, a pimp and general asshole, at a strip club where transvestites dance along the bar , Jacki and Julian soon find themselves plunged into the seedy underbelly of sex, drugs and hedonistic upper-class houseboat parties. Goodbye Gemini is a tragic story, and one with many strange elements which makes, overall, for an interesting and engrossing watch. For instance it soon becomes apparent that Julian has a deep obsession for his sister that oversteps the boundaries of normal sibling love into darker more taboo territories, and there is also the case that while these twins inhabit the bodies of fully grown adults, their behaviour is anything but. As well as constantly playing ridiculously childish games they have to consult their bear ‘friend’ on everything they do.

Cast.

It has to be said that Martin Potter as brother Julian plays his role fantastically; creepy, socially inept, immature, and downright weird, Julian is the type of guy who makes your skin crawl from head to toe. It is interesting that he also played a similarly freaky character in Norman J Warren’s Satan’s Slave, however here he goes all out to really make your stomach churn, especially in the scenes where he is lusting over his fraternal twin. Julian is a revolting and pathetic character, born from a life of lavish privilege it makes it very difficult to illicit any sympathy for him. Goodbye Gemini also showcases a very young Judy Geeson as the nicer, but still as odd, twin sister Jacki. Slightly more likeable than her brother Geeson manages to pull off a certain wide-eyed innocence which makes you feel sorry for her plight; trapped in a strange relationship with her smothering brother, all you want her to do is escape, if only someone would set fire to the teddy bear she sees fit to have to consult on every life choice she makes. As well as the twins the film boasts a strong supporting cast, most notably Alexis Kanner as pimp Clive, sporting the most epic sideburns ever, (I must have spent at least 20 minutes speculating whether they were stuck on or not), and some great 70’s hipster lines, it is easy to see why Jacki becomes so taken in by him. Kanner manages to summon up the appropriate level of snakelike charm although his performance is often overshadowed by Julian’s sulking and brattish behaviour. Thespian Michael Redgrave puts in a strong effort into his small, yet significant part as Politician James Harrington-Smith.

Production.

Goodbye Gemini was directed by Alan Gibson who was better known for his work with Hammer; Crescendo, Dracula A.D 972 and Satanic Rites of Dracula. As with Dracula A.D, or perhaps more so, he manages to capture a brilliant time capsule for retro swinging London. As the story unfolds the viewer is lead around vintage London, upper-class houseboat parties, seedy motels, and beautiful regency households. The film was shot in and around London Battersea, Chelsea, Bayswater and this gives the film a real sense of that period in time and place. While the direction is tight, and it has to be pointed out in my opinion this is one of Gibson’s better projects, one thing which stands out above everything is the cinematography, provided by Oscar, BAFTA winning Goeffrey Unsworth. The high production values give this film a real sense of class regardless of the story consisting of mainly lurid content.

The Highs.

For me personally I have to say I loved Martin Potter’s performance, he manages to trample over every other actor in his scenes with his ludicrous behaviour. I also could not get enough of the sets and locations, and the art direction in particular was outstanding. While the plot is slow, and I will mention this in a moment, the payoff is well worth the wait, and without giving away anything I really, really loved the pessimistic ending. One thing I adore about British features, especially ones of this kind, is the ability to end on a low note; that bleak feeling that everything will not be all right, which perhaps seems a strange thing to say, but I think it makes for provocative experience and leaves you with something which tends to stick with you.

The Lows.

On the flipside Goodbye Gemini is painfully slow; it takes quite a while to hit the punch line with plenty of long dragging scenes, and uncomfortable brother/sister moments. I am sure this was done to establish the mindscape of the siblings however some of it seems a bit unnecessary and scraping over the same ground again and again.

Verdict.

On the whole, although slow moving, Goodbye Gemini was a thoroughly watchable experience, one which I enjoyed, and would repeat again. I think it is one of those films that takes a while to digest, and is, if nothing more, at least memorable. The story was intriguing enough to keep me involved, despite the lack of pace, the cast was solid, and the tale interesting in an offbeat peculiar way. A terrific example of British 70’s filmmaking, and a highpoint for director Alan Gibson.

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Categories: British Horror, Reviews

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