Review: The Gift
Once in a blue moon a film comes along that looks absolutely horrible, yet somehow ends up being really great. Joel Edgerton’s The Gift shocks as a film with a generic set-up, yet with great direction and shocking twists it ends up being one of the best thrillers of the year.
Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have moved back to Simon’s California hometown in need of a fresh start. While buying some furniture, the two bump into Gordo (Edgerton), one of Simon’s high school acquaintances. After the encounter, Simon recalls that people used to the man “Gordo the Weirdo”, but Robyn defends him, saying claiming that he seems like a nice man, albeit socially awkward. After coming home to a bottle of wine (the first gift) waiting at their door, Simon and Robyn invite Gordo over for dinner. This dinner marks the first of many Edward Albee-esque gatherings, and it is at precisely this moment that it becomes evident that The Gift is not your standard thriller. Of the course of the next few weeks, the relationship becomes dangerous as secrets from decades prior are brought to light.
Edgerton takes an excellent approach, neither pitting Gordo nor Simon as the enemy. The viewer is thrust into ambiguity and is forced to decide whom to side with very early on in the film. Within the act, Edgerton makes it clear that Simon was, and is, a bully; yet, he paints Gordo with such a disturbing awkwardness that it’s hard to easily sympathize with him as well.
Do not fall under the spell of the cheesy promos for the film. The Gift is a special kind of thriller; a kind that we have been missing since the early ‘90s. The film keeps viewers guessing for just the right amount of time. Even after the third act revelation comes The Gift will keep viewers on the edge of their seats until the closing shot, where they will sit back, mouths agape, in utter shock and awe.