Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Writer, director and star: Joel Edgerton
THE GIFT (2015). Writer/director: Joel Edgerton.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall), have just moved into a new home when they encounter Simon's old high school acquaintance, Gordo (Joel Edgerton, who also wrote and directed the picture). Gordo, who gives the couple gifts, seems pleasant enough, but he makes Simon nervous, especially when some of his actions seem a little odd. Apparently something happened in the past between Simon and Gordo, and Robyn is determined to find out what it was ... The main strength of The Gift, after the excellent performances of the three leads, is the film's undeniable suspense as it switches your allegiance back and forth from Simon to Gordo and you try to figure out which man is the true villain. The movie also explores how much accountability a person should be held to due to cruel pranks in youth; how some people can never move beyond a certain significant moment in their lives; and if revenge is ever warranted, especially if it victimizes innocents as well. Bateman [This is Where I Leave You], always glib and smug, is perfect as Simon; Hall [Iron Man 3]is simply wonderful and very appealing as Robyn; and Edgerton maintains an air of what one might call sympathetic mystery around Gordo until the very end. On the other hand, I'm not certain that the film really stands up to close scrutiny, nor that it has the kind of impact that it could have had. Some viewers may be frustrated because Edgerton doesn't spell out everything -- this also means you may feel at a distance from the characters -- although most of it can be figured out.

Verdict: Flawed but highly intriguing suspense film with on-the-money performances. ***.


angelman66 said...

I enjoyed this one too, Joel Edgerton is a very versatile and talented guy. This had the feel of those 80s and 90s thrillers I used to love, formulaic but satisfying. Fun to see Jason Bateman play it straight for a change, and the wonderful Rebecca Hall was best of all. Very engrossing, as you note, and I look forward to a second viewing.

William said...

Yes, I was very impressed with Hall. She doesn't have classic beauty but she is attractive and a very good actress. Bateman was just right for his part, and Edgerton seems quite talented. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.