A young married couple's lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband's past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.
August 7, 2015
Joel Edgerton as Gordo
Jason Bateman as Simon
Rebecca Hall as Robyn
Revenge can be a nasty critter that won’t seem to crawl from beneath the covers, no matter how frantically you rustle them. For those with a conscience who have genuinely wronged someone, it’s always with you, deep down, looming over your head and weighing on your mind. Because you know, one day, revenge will escalate, and it won’t just wriggle under the covers, it will bite beneath those covers. It’s part of life. It is part of what so many like to label ‘karma’, and it can be awfully nasty.
The Gift offers the chance to see that karma is about to catch up to Simon (Jason Bateman), and the devastation that arrives in the wake of that karma won’t be pretty.
Simon and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have recently relocated. They’ve moved back to Simon’s home town, where comfort should be a guarantee. And initially it seems it is, until the two – while out shopping – run into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an old acquaintance of Simon’s. Simon racks his brain in a bid to remember the man, but seems to come up short. That won’t change Gordo’s sudden imposition. He begins popping up at the couples’ home. The trend sees Gordo frequent the house while Simon is at work. The man begins leaving unexpected gifts behind and before long Simon and Robyn agree to have a few dinner dates with the awkward gent, who at this point, comes across as creepy, but hasn’t necessarily crossed any taboo lines. That changes rather quickly.
Simon pieces the puzzle of his past together. As his childhood relationship with Gordo suddenly comes into focus, the intensity of the story reaches near-fever pitch (something to come in the final 20 minutes of the picture.) As it turns out, these two were never actually friends, and Simon, the nice, successful fellow with a lovely wife and a future that only seems to burn brighter by the day, wasn’t a very a nice guy in his youth. In fact, he was something else altogether, and Gordo, now back in the man’s life is looking to make him remember, and exact a little revenge.
There are some superb spins in this story. I’m aching inside to spoil the film for you (a major no-no around here), as the twist is both unnerving and beautifully ambiguous, anchored by captivating performances. Edgerton turns in a showing that will have your head spinning and your insides rolling, but it’s actually Jason Bateman that steals the show. He manages such a feat by taking on a role unlike any we’ve ever seen from the veteran thespian. This isn’t the Bateman we saw in Hancock, Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief or The Break-Up, this is a savage, threatening Bateman that comes across as alarmingly believable. But compliments to the cast cannot stop with Bateman and Edgerton, the gushing has to spill over in Rebecca Hall’s direction, as she’s excellent as the confused and victimized wife. Like her male counterparts in the picture, her work is undoubted. To sum it up in a single, blunt statement, this is a riveting trio.
Getting back to Edgerton in particular, it must be said that the man is proving his worth as an A-list contributor to celluloid. The first time the man captured my personal attention was in 2011, when he impressed on every level in the tense drama, Warrior. He immediately mesmerized, displaying some refined acting chops. But The Gift proves he’s a whole lot more than an awesome actor. He’s fully capable of writing a genius screenplay, and his work from the director’s chair is engaging and polished. While it was unknown to me just a few months ago, Joel Edgerton is capable of doing it all, and that makes him a very, very serious player in Hollywood.
Do not embark on this journey with the idea that you’re going to see a terrifying horror film. More thriller than horror, the movie does prove to be grim and disconcerting, and there are a number of sequences – particularly in the final act – that will certainly send chills running down your spine. Why? Because this is plausible horror that leaves viewers uncertain of their assessment of who the good guy is, and who the bad guy is. There are no big budget special effects or intimidating monsters to behold, there is only the terror that can be invoked by the dark hearts of man. And that works wonderfully. The Gift will stick to your bones because this specific story is a story that could befall anyone. You, me, the neighbor, we could all fall into this depressing and unsettling scenario. That is precisely why The Gift is a picture that lingers in the mind. If you’re after a well thought out chiller that places the idiosyncrasies and mistakes of man under the microscope, you’re going to cherish this picture.