Title – The Gift (2015)
Director – Joel Edgerton (feature debut)
Cast – Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Plot – Married couple Simon (Bateman) and Robyn (Hall) find their seemingly ideal lives turned upside down after they run into one of Simon’s old classmates Gordo (Edgerton) who starts to produce stalker like qualities concerning the duo. But what motivation does Gordo have to do such things?
“See, you’re done with the past, but the past is not done with you”
Review by Eddie on 26/05/2016
Taking the next big step in his Hollywood career, Australian born actor/writer and now director Joel Edgerton has shown off his not to be scoffed at talents as an all-round movie making master with this highly efficient and in many ways original low key thriller that remains constantly engaging without ever reaching grand heights.
The Gift was made for roughly 5 million dollars and its clear Edgerton had faith in his script, characters and actors to carry the weight of the film where more big budgeted Hollywood thrillers of the same ilk would be interested to splash more cash on high stakes scenes or unwarranted set pieces. It shows a class to Edgerton that has been earnt over a number of years, most tellingly in his short films with brother Nash and the Australian produced the Square that entered local Australian cinema screens back in 2008.
In those early entries to Edgerton’s work behind camera he showed a filmmaking nuance in slow burning stories and letting dialogue take centre stage and The Gift is no different with Edgerton’s script a highlight of the film. There’s social commentary and snarky delivery of lines and his other cast mates in the form of Rebecca Hall’s loving wife Robyn and Jason Bateman’s not as first appears Simon seem to have a great time with such a character focussed outing.
Delivering his best turn in years as the increasingly suspect Simon, it’s great to see Bateman finally away from such terrible films as Identity Thief and the Horrible Bosses’s series and the way in which Bateman’s character slowly morphs into a different persona is a great reason to watch the Gift. Edgerton too has a whole lot of fun playing Gordo “the weirdo” and not only looks the part of a slightly demented stalker-like acquaintance but acts it and while the developing narrative of Gordo’s strange behaviours becoming more apparent doesn’t in the end feel as strong as it could’ve been, there’s a simple joy for viewers to watch the arc play out.
At its best an almost Hitchcockian like thriller that at its worst becomes a little lame, The Gift is a great jumping off point for Edgerton’s directional career and while he hasn’t always picked the best parts in Hollywood productions (hello Exodus and Jane Got a Gun) he has now shown the industry he has the chops to become a highly successful behind the scenes presence. I for one look forward to what he comes up with next.
3 ½ monkey masks out of 5