the Gift


Theatrical poster for ‘The Gift.’

Some movies present a black and white scenario to the audience. One character is clearly the hero, the other is clearly the villain. Other movies focus on "the gray area." They show that no side is completely right or wrong. "The Gift" paints a bleaker picture. It presents a black and black scenerio to the audience. Both sides are very, very wrong.

"The Gift" is Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut. The movie stars Jason Bateman as Simon Callen, a manipulative businessman who just moved to the suburbs with his wife. Rebecca Hall plays Simon’s wife, Robyn.

One day while at the hardware store picking up things for their new home Simon and Robyn run into Gordon Moseley, an old high school classmate of Simon. Simon claims he does not remember Gordon. Soon afterward Gordon begins making frequent unannounced visits to the Callens’ home, especially when Robyn is home alone.

Simon becomes distressed by Gordon’s almost-constant presence, and after a failed dinner party with Gordon, Simon breaks off the friendship. This is the point where everyone’s lives begin to unravel.

Caught in the middle of her husband and Gordon’s feud, Robyn begins to investigate. She finds that the two share a much darker past than she was led to believe.

"The Gift" is an excellent psychological thriller. The story plods along at a very deliberate pace, but never drags. It reveals important information about the characters slowly, each piece being revealed when its impact is greatest. Additionally, the slower pace helps create a huge impact during the film’s final moments.

The plot builds up the tension expertly. The movie covers many months in the characters’ lives, and you get to see what starts as minor points of contention turn into major life-shattering arguments. With each passing minute, things get just a little more tense, a little more unnerving, until by the very end the whole situation is a big disturbing mess.

One of the best features of "The Gift" is the darkness of the characters. Other movies have a clear good guy and a clear bad guy. In this movie, everyone is the bad guy. Simon is a manipulative bully, and Gordon’s brand of revenge is harrowing to the extreme.

Robyn, caught between the two ends up becoming the victim. Her husband turns out not to be the man she thought he was, and she unknowingly becomes intimately involved with Gordon’s revenge plot.

All of the actors gave excellent performances. For those used to seeing Bateman in comedies such as "Arrested Development" and "Horrible Bosses," this movie is a significant departure from his comedic side. Simon is controlling, cruel and callous, and Bateman portrays this perfectly.

Hall also gives a great performance. You see her character go from a fragile woman depressed over a miscarriage to a shrewd investigator looking into her husband’s past, then standing up for herself when his true character is revealed.

Edgerton portrays Gordon "Gordo the weirdo" perfectly. He is sad, creepy and sinister all at the same time.

The movie has no negatives. Everything about it from the plot to the characters to the soundtrack is executed perfectly. The subject matter certainly has the potential to be too disturbing for some people depending on their sensibilities; however, that is to be expected from a psychological thriller.

"The Gift" is an excellent movie. It draws the audience in and holds their attention until the very end. It is wonderfully acted and written. It is certainly not a feel-good movie, but that is what makes it great.