The Gift Movie Review
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Who in their right mind doesn’t like to be showered with gifts? It’s always nice to be thought of and to receive tokens of appreciation. Well at least until it becomes excessive, then the situation becomes kind of creepy. For Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) this very situation comes into play as the move to California from their previous home in the midwest. While out shopping upon settling into their new home Simon runs into a former high school classmate whom he does not recognize at first. Gordo (Joel Edgerton) is quick to offer up additional information in order to jog Simon’s memory which seems to do the job. Even though the conversation flows freely there’s clearly something off about their encounter. Gordo seemingly thrusts himself into the lives of Robyn and Simon but for what purpose? It is unclear whether the motivation is purely that of the friendly variety or does Gordo have something more sinister in mind? The deeper into the story of The Gift you go the more questions you begin to have.
Even though it hasn’t been technically labeled as such, The Gift has many aspects of a psychological thriller. There are few moving parts with the mystery but each has important value. Whether the importance is evident at first glance or after allowing time to mentally connect the dots is solely at the viewer’s discretion. The trick to making a movie unsettling is giving it an element that many people can relate to. That way the connection is present on a cerebral level thus allowing personal experiences to creep in to assist in forging a stronger bond. The events of The Gift are not THAT far fetched therefore allowing the audience to identify with what’s happening. Let’s face it. Everyone who attended high school knew of that one person who was just “not quite right.” And chances are if you didn’t know of a person like that you may have been that person. Sorry to break it to you. The same goes for the jocks and the bullies. We can all identify with these types.
The Gift gives off an eery feeling of realism in not a too far fetched way. Simon is a driven professional with his sights set on excelling in his career. Robyn is trying to get her career as a designer while also dealing with some personal demons that are revealed as the plot begins to unfold. Then there’s the wildcard, Gordo, who seems somewhat lonely but tries very hard to come across as a nice person. These are everyday occurrences that people around us deal with all of the time. There’s no super powers, talking robot cars, sleeper agents or demons haunting the property. It’s real life stuff going on. Unfortunately audiences have become so accustomed to the previous things mentioned that this feels kind of bland and lackluster. To be honest, at times it does fall into that category but doesn’t stay there for too long.
Joel Edgerton, who is also the director of The Gift, really does come across as a bit of a disturbed introvert. From his first scene until his last it’s very difficult to get a handle on his character. Jason Bateman once again shows that he can play various types of roles from slapstick comedy to the person he becomes in this thriller. Rebecca Hall appears to be scattered, frazzled and vulnerable throughout and hopefully that’s what she is aiming for. There are a few jump moments (some for very dumb reasons) but the apprehension of the unknown is really what feeds this movie. It will most likely go unnoticed in the box office but as a believable thriller The Gift does have its redeeming factors as long as you’re patient enough for the final payoff.