Not every thriller needs to be pacy, nail-biting stuff. Some burn slow, make you uncomfortable for all the right reasons and by the end of it, you know you’ve got your money’s worth. The Gift is an example that will be counted among the latter. The movie marks the directorial debut of Australian actor Joel Edgerton (think Star Wars, Animal Kingdom, Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty). Edgerton does not just stop at being in the director’s chair here but also produces, writes and stars in The Gift. And boy, does he do a stellar job!
The movie takes its own sweet time to settle the viewer in and without much effort gets his rapt attention. The Gift is the story of a young married couple, Simon and Robyn Callen, played by Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Juno, Up in the Air) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, The Prestige), respectively. They move to Los Angeles from Chicago after Simon gets a new job. Simon soon meets Gordon Moseley (Edgerton) who he went to school with. Gordon begins to drop by the Callen’s unannounced when Simon is away at work. He brings them gifts everytime, helps Robyn around her new house much to the suspicion of Simon. Meanwhile, the Callens move up the social ladder, Simon begins to do well at work and is the among the favourites for a plum promotion, and are trying for a child together. Not before still being bothered by the eccentricities of Gordo. What soon follows is the revelation that turns The Gift into a delicious revenge saga.
The three lead actors almost seem like in a race to outdo each other when it comes to individual performances. Bateman convincingly plays a protective husband thrown into a situation he wasn’t prepared for. Hall aces as the stoic wife who holds her own against a husband who undoubtedly is very much in love with her yet is often patronising. And Edgerton makes you squirm in your seat in a performance he will be long cheered for.
At no point does The Gift attempt to go overboard with the plot or its execution making the movie very believable, very relatable and that IS the scary part. You know it could happen to anybody.
The pace of the movie, as mentioned before, is intentionally slow and the simplicity with which The Gift tells the story of the Callens and Gordo with a climax that might just see its audience go, “Man! That was something” makes this one an absolute delight.
Why should you watch this film?
You must watch The Gift because this is a thriller that fans of the genre have been waiting for. You must watch it for the sincere performances of the cast. Bring an open mind to the movie hall though.