August 21, 2015
Simon Callen and his wife Robyn have just moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. While in the mall shopping for home supplies, Simon runs into an old classmate from high school, Gordon "Gordo" Moseley. Seemingly overeager to be friends, Gordo begins sending them little gifts and visiting at odd times during the day. Even if Robyn tries to be understanding, Simon gets very uncomfortable with the situation and confronts Gordo about his behavior.
Rebecca Hall has that unconventional beauty whom I first noticed as Vicky in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008). She would also make a mark in the gritty film "The Town" (2010) and was arguably the best part of the unfortunate film "Transcendence" (2014). Again, she makes the most of her role here as Robyn, a wife caught between a bitter contest of wills between two men. She is a flawed character, but she has a decisive will of her own. Ms. Hall possesses a smart no-nonsense aura about her which makes her ideal for these strong women characters.
We know Jason Bateman more as a comedian, with his roles on TV and recent films like "Horrible Bosses" (2011). This sense of goodwill he has as an engaging actor makes him an ideal casting choice for a role like Simon in a film like this. His double-edged performance works to create more confusion among the audience while they are watching, adding further thrill and suspense as the film went along.
Joel Edgerton is an Australian actor whose excellence in acting I first noted in the boxing film "Warrior" (2011). For his latest film "The Gift", Edgerton not only acts in a lead role, he is also the writer and, for the first time in a feature film, director. As an actor, Edgerton imbues his character Gordo with subtle yet very effective tension. His mere presence on the screen as the sadsack loser will give goosebumps. As writer and director, Edgerton effectively tells his story of interpersonal terror, with moments which can unnerve even the most steadfast. This for sure is an auspicious feature film directorial debut for Edgerton.
The film makes use of situations familiar to many people to create a nightmare which may actually happen in real life, adding to the feeling of dread we feel as audiences. Haven't we all experienced that feeling of awkwardness around old acquaintances who become intrusively nosy or overly familiar? Don't we all have those unpleasant childhood memories we would rather bury into our subconscious? Even though the events in "The Gift" may be a bit extreme to be entirely realistic, its twisted tale will involve you and creep you out. 7/10.