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Joel Edgerton in The Gift

REVIEW: The Gift

filmgob filmgob This review contains spoilers.

A married couple's lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband's past brings a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

Written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton, The Gift is a tense, slow burning thriller. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play the young couple who move into a new home but soon run into Edgerton, an old school colleague of Bateman. He begins leaving gifts at their home, which unsettles the husband into remembering the school nickname Gordo the Weirdo, much to the annoyance of Hall who sees him as a sympathetic loner, Dinner meetings soon escalate into mistrust as the couple get the police involved when Gordo’s actions become more disturbing. After a lengthy time with no problems, things again begin to spiral out of control.

The main strength of The Gift is in the performances. Edgerton is brilliant, surprisingly unpredictable in his manner and actions. Bateman plays the successful everyman at first, but is pushed far enough to make us question his character and morals. Hall is great as we see her go from content and healthy to troubled and vulnerable, seeking answers to the history between Bateman and Edgerton.

As a psychological thriller, the film does well at revealing small details through character shifts and mannerisms. The suspense and uncertainty is never ending but the few jump scares felt out of place. The pace of the film could’ve picked up slightly as it dragged in some scenes. The score to the film is almost unnoticeable, but when required it compliments the steady framing, stylish look of mostly indoor surroundings. Wether open spaced rooms or tight corridors, the tension is always present.

Overall, The Gift is a rare thriller that doesn’t fall into cliche set-ups, predictable fisty cuffs or bloody showdowns, instead Edgerton delivers well crafted twists and turns, with an unsettling conclusion. It has you guessing all the way to the end, leaving the viewer asking the question: is your past truly done with you?


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