I was truly surprised at how much I liked The Gift. I rarely appreciate the thriller or horror genres, as I don’t like to be scared while watching a movie (or any time, really). The Gift is certainly not a horror movie, however, or even a thriller in the classic sense. Suspense builds deftly and gradually into the weave of the dramatic elements.
This drama includes a loose mix of themes: starting anew, the challenges of marriage, revisiting the past, karma, and revenge. One of the best screenplays to meld this all together is created by the writer, Joel Edgerton. He is also the director and one of the principal actors as well, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Edgerton was born and raised in Australia (how do these non-native actors nail the American accent?), and a little later in life has done some American television and movies, nothing noble. But he wrote a unique and appealing screenplay that creates suspense without resorting to flat dialogue or cheesy effects. In other words, it’s a really good story.
And here, succinctly, is the storyline: Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a married couple who have recently relocated to California, and by chance bump into Gordo (Edgerton), who recognizes Simon as someone he knew in high school. We should all chip in and buy a fruit basket for casting director, Terri Taylor (who also casted American Beauty and Catch Me If You Can, amongst many other notables) because Bateman and Hall absolutely nail it as a perfect pair to drive this vehicle. Unlike most comedic actors that can’t easily fit into a dramatic role, Jason Bateman here shows a range we haven’t seen before. Rebecca Hall, certainly hasn’t disappointed in somewhat lighter roles in films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Please Give, but in The Gift she displays a high degree of ease in uncovering the layers of her character, and imbuing her with a certain ambiguity. And wow, is Joel Edgerton ever superb as Gordo. He does an exceedingly effective job in getting the questions rolling and planting that little seed of discomfort in the solar plexus of the viewer. I could also go on about the supporting cast, but by this time you are going to run right over and rent this movie, so you can see for yourself.
Edgerton has also penciled into his busy schedule the direction of The Gift, and he performs like a skilled chef who has pulled together all of the fine ingredients.
For a suspenseful drama that appeals to even those viewers who usually don’t enjoy thrillers, The Gift is your ticket to an excellent experience. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 10/27/15