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Dan's Review: Complex characters showcased in "The Gift"

Aug 13, 2015 02:13PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall in The Gift - © 2015 STX Productions

The Gift (STX Entertainment)

Rated R for language.

Starring Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Allison Tolman, Katie Aselton, Susan May Pratt, Beau Knapp, Wendell Pierce, Nash Edgerton, Tim Griffin, P.J. Byrne, Mirrah Foulkes.

Written and Directed by Joel Edgerton.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

Psycho thrillers have fallen by the wayside over the past few decades. It seemed as though the neo-film noir genre hit its peak in the 1990s with faire like Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. When such efforts started to seem like the same movie, they became fodder for lampooning and the trend halted. The Gift, a film written and directed by Australian actor Joel Edgerton (who also plays a leading role) is a throwback to modern noir, albeit with more subtlety than a knife-wielding psycho.

The story begins as a young couple Simon and Robyn Callen (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) move into a luxurious California home. While shopping for furnishings, Gordo (Edgerton) spots Simon and recognizes him as an old schoolmate. Gordo begins showing up at the Callen home bearing gifts. Robyn accepts the gifts and takes a liking to Gordo, even while recognizing Gordo’s awkward, shy nature. Simon begins to get uncomfortable with Gordo’s generosity, and even more suspicious when he discovers that his old school chum might not be telling the truth about himself. Things get more intense when Simon confronts Gordo and insists he stay away. Robyn also suspects that Simon isn’t telling the truth about his relationship with Gordo, and does a little investigation of her own. The truth is hard to swallow, leading to dangerous confrontation between the Callens and Gordo.

The Gift is a unique psychological drama that emphasizes characters rather than cheap thrills. It’s a heady movie that gets credit for provoking more thought than screams. The performances are exceptional, and well written. Bateman’s portrayal of a regular guy with a dark past is chilling and disturbing. Rebecca Hall also proves she can hold her own in a leading role, while Edgerton’s characterization of a troubled man pushed to his limits is worthy of note – especially considering that he took on the triple threat of writing, starring and direction of The Gift.

Some may not appreciate the payoff or the slow pace of The Gift, but it’s a movie that will get you thinking about the consequences of bad choices and bad relationships.

 

The Gift Trailer

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