If there is one genre I enjoy watching more than most, it’s a good thriller. Sadly good thrillers are a dime a dozen today as the genre tends to be littered with films that are either, very formulaic or just plain stupid and preposterous by the time the end credits roll around.
The Gift is written, directed and co-stars Australian actor Joel Edgerton who also plays Gordo one of the central characters to the story. It’s tough to really talk much about the events of the film without the risk of walking into spoiler town. Suffice it to say, Gordo is a quiet, awkward kind of guy who runs into Simon and Robyn, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, at a local department store. Initially Simon is appears unaware of who Gordo is, but soon it becomes obvious to the viewer that Gordo used to go to school with Simon. Simon and Gordo strike up an awkward conversion and Simon mentions that he and his wife have recently moved back to Simon’s home town for his new job at a security company. The meet is both quiet and unassuming as the young couple carries on their day as normal.
As the days go by, things begin to get a little more uncomfortable for Simon and Robyn and creepier for the audience as Gordo begins leaving little house warming gifts for young couple at their house and shows up at random times unannounced which begins a sequence of events which are both unsettling and indeed surprising by the time the end credits roll around.
Joel Edgerton has crafted an interesting thriller here which takes your typical stalker film conventions and runs with them to places that some people may guess and some people are not. Casting here works very well for the film and Jason Bateman plays his role of Simon perfectly which really brings the film up to another level, I think that if anyone else had played this role, the film would have been worse off for it. Edgerton handles the dual role of actor and director surprisingly well, his portrayal of Gordo is both understated and haunting, Rebecca Hall on the other hand disappoints, but it is not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the film.
In this world of big budget film making with minimal plot and maximum explosions, The Gift is indeed a gift to audiences who enjoy smart film making. While The Gift probably won’t retain the same legacy in twenty years as other films in the genre like Se7en, Taxi Driver or Silence Of The Lambs for example. The Gift is still a solidly constructed film which is definitely worth your time. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll get a kick out of it.