Posted July 31, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

The Gift Review

the gift

“Everyone changes after high school” says Jason Bateman’s Simon, the protagonist of Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut, The Gift. Edgerton, known as both an actor and screenwriter, has taken the move into the directors chair and the result is something truly engrossing and disturbing.

Simon is talking about the fact that Gordon (Edgerton, who also stars), or Gordo the Weirdo is somehow the exact same person he was twenty years ago, and this is freaking him and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) out just a bit. Simon and Robyn have recently moved near where the former grew up, starting a new job and a new life following a brief tragedy the young yuppie couple endured, but nothing life in the suburbs won’t fix.

It is at this point that Simon and co. are reacquainted with Gordon, an old high school peer who he barely recognized, and promised that they would catch up soon. Gordon soon takes it upon himself to rekindle whatever friendship they may or may not have had, and it all turns a little seedy and dark once Simon rejects Gordon’s advances.

Edgerton is the one we look at throughout the film, trying to dissect what exactly happened to his character in his younger years, and how this shaped him. And as the story starts to unravel, we learn more and more about each character that you begin to loathe each of the main cast at some point or another, before ultimately deciding who it is you are rooting for.

Bateman’s everyman has a dark side, while Hall’s working wife has her own demons, but Edgerton’s creepy Gordo is who the limelight is one throughout, even though he is noticeably missing from a great chunk of the film. And as realities are shed to light, and we learn that our hero isn’t what we thought. Indeed, it painfully becomes a reality that Simon hasn’t changed that much from high school either, and is still a pathetic bully to this day.

The film swivels and swerves in such a way that we are constantly trying to find our hero and our villain, and while there is an end and we have our answer, it isn’t until this very moment that it is set in stone. And the manner in which we get there is about as dark and vengeful as they come.

Edgerton in front of the camera delivers a stellar performance, and with a more than decent first effort on the other side of the lens, The Gift is part horror, part psychological thriller that holds it’s own to those great stalker films of the 80’s and 90’s, and rarely makes a misstep. Coupled with A Single Man’s director of photography Eduard Grau, there is a suitable dreary filter throughout the picture, lending to it’s theme and feel.

Bateman and Hall both give memorable performances as the young couple hoping to finally find the happiness they believe they deserve, but this is Edgertons’s gift to deliver, and it is both welcome and beautiful.

4 Stars



Chris Droney