Gossip, 2000; directed by Davis Guggenheim
Let's get this out of the way now: James Marsden is a beautiful man. It's not all too difficult to watch him even when he's not really doing anything spectacular, like acting.
That being said, I stumbled upon this movie by chance while browsing my instant Netflix cue looking for something not too serious to watch. And boy, did I find it. I had never even heard of it before today, but the plot sounded interesting, and quite frankly, I was not expecting much anyway with a cast that also included Kate Hudson and Joshua Jackson, who was then still in the middle of his Dawson's Creek days.
The plot is set on an ambiguous New York City college campus where three roommates--Jones (Lena Heady), Travis (Norman Reedus), and Derrick (Marsden)--decide to start a rumor about a rich-girl transfer known for being chaste having sex with her boyfriend at a party and seeing where it goes for a "class project." Naturally, the rumor gets out of hand, and it ultimately leads to Naomi (Hudson) pressing charges against Bo (Jackson) when she catches wind of the rumor and believes that he raped her after she passed out. Derrick witnessed the entire encounter and knows that Bo did not do such a thing, but refuses to admit to the police that it was all made up even though Jones freaks out and wants to do the right thing.
What transpires from there is only vaguely intriguing, and the performances on all fronts are quite embarrassing. Each main character has at least one scene in the film where they are supposed to become extremely angry and throw things and yell, but I believe each of these moments about as much as I believe that Elvis is still alive. In the grand scheme of things, Gossip falls a step below the 1999 flick Jawbreaker; it takes itself incredibly too seriously, whereas in the latter, there is a campiness and awareness that the performances are exaggerated and the story ridiculous. Gossip wants to make bold statements about society's obsession with each other's lives and how the media can easily manipulate our perceptions, but it only ends with a bizarre "twist" that doesn't reveal anything particularly profound regarding the fine line between truth and lies.