Ambition, even when unevenly realised, should still be admired for its own sake. Especially in the colourless, antiseptic, utterly obvious world of the American teen movie. And at least director David Guggenheim (associated primarily with "NYPD Blue" and "ER") has ambition. Quite a lot of it, in fact.
He hangs his story on three youngsters who are students of the world's most popular subject (media studies) and, as they exercise their brains on the difference between gossip and news, they decide to employ gossip as the mainspring of a student project. In other words, they spy on a girl entering her boyfriend's room at a party and, despite the fact that she was too drunk to have sex, they start gossiping that an extremely close encounter took place. Tittle-tattle soon turns into a giant snowball, especially when the girl believes the gossip and decides to lay a charge against her boyfriend.
Now, in terms of ambition, Guggenheim fairly packs his film with twists and turns: this is fine and dandy when they emerge naturally from character and situation but proves silly when they are disconnected from dramatic reality and spring from a writer's head instead. The absurd ending is particularly guilty in this respect. However, even when the film is seriously unbalanced, it is shot through with credible performances, with James Marsden (Cyclops in last week's "X-Men") putting on a particularly good show. In addition, Lena Headey gives a strong impression of youthfulness in a film which, at the very least, always looks good.