REVIEW: The Gift (2015)

Release Poster – Blumhouse Productions

The following is a review of ‘The Gift’, a Joel Edgerton film.

The first time I saw Joel Edgerton was back in 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, but I didn’t realize who he was until he amazed me in Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. He has become a great actor, and now he might have evolved into an exciting writer-director with one of the best thrillers of 2015 – The Gift.

The Gift follows Robyn and Simon Callum who have recently moved into a new neigbourhood in Los Angeles. While out shopping, the Callums are greeted by ‘Gordo’ (played by Joel Edgerton), an old classmate of Simon (played by Jason Bateman). Some time thereafter Gordo returns to Simon and Robyn’s new home with gifts, and this sudden reappearance of Gordo makes Simon uncomfortable, much to the surprise of Robyn who finds him friendly and kind. One night Simon loses his cool and orders Gordo to stay away from his family, which changes the nature of Gordo’s want to show up at their house.

What is really amazing about this film is how you lose trust in the film’s ‘protagonists’. The Gift twists and turns its plot around to brilliant effect, and it gives us one of the most horrifying final acts of 2015. It might not be the most original plot, but it’s done really well by a first-time director who manages to take well-known actors, including himself, and make them unrecognizable at critical points in the film.

Jason Bateman is one of the stars of The Gift, and you only think of him as his Arrested Development character when you realize how different he seems as Simon. I would really like to see Bateman take more roles like this one, as characters like Simon gives him more of a challenge than the average comedy films. I really love Jason Bateman as an actor, and in this film his character is married to Rebecca Hall’s Robyn Callum. Robyn is the most innocent of our characters, and she is an excellent audience surrogate of The Gift, undeserving of the events that suddenly change her life.

Joel Edgerton, as mentioned earlier, is a great actor, and he is perfectly creepy as Gordo. But there is more to his character, which the plot reveals around one of its twists, and he becomes a very memorable character once it is all said and done. You never really know what to expect of his character, especially due to the fact that the protagonists have differing opinions of him, and it adds a great layer to his character.

It is really tough to speak on the plot of The Gift without revealing significant spoilers, but it is safe to say that there is a certain Hitchcockian twist in Edgerton’s directorial debut. Edgerton’s directorial debut is brilliant, because he manages to take his own script and make it something worthwhile, which elevates him from a great actor to a surprising cinematic triple threat.

Truth be told, when I first saw this film I expected it to be a pretty mediocre and bland thriller. It turns out that The Gift might be my favorite psychological thriller since Gone Girl, which is astounding considering the lack of directorial experience of Joel Edgerton. It truly is a stunning directorial debut.

Final Score: 8.8 out of 10The Gift is an amazing directorial debut for Joel Edgerton, who also wrote this excellent Hitchcockian thriller.

I’m Jeffrey Rex