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Movie Breakdown: The Gift

August 7, 2015

Film

The Impression:

Things get weird for Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall when Joel Edgerton opts to make himself a part of their lives.  I’m in, if only to see Bateman do something other than be sarcastic.

The Reality:

The Gift is, well, a gift.  Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are in need of a fresh start, so they make a big move and in the process of getting settled they happen to get re-acquainted with someone that Simon went to high school with.  All seems fine, but Gordo (Joel Edgerton in full-on maybe-he’s-bad-or-maybe-he-isn’t mode) is too eager to please, too intrusive and too socially off, so Simon brings their friendship to an abrupt and awkward end.  Normally, this where most thrillers change gears, become horror-enthused and allow the jilted party to start murdering people and shit.  Thankfully, The Gift doesn’t do this.  Edgerton (here making his directorial debut) instead pushes you further down the rabbit hole.  Is Gordo actually crazy?  Is Simon just an asshole?  Is Robyn too nice?  Why won’t Simon talk about he and Gordo’s time in high school together?  Why do each of them seem to be hiding something?  What’s everyone after?  There are a lot of threads to explore, and Edgerton wonderfully touches on each them while leaving you completely torn in regards to whose side you should be on.  Hell, even when The Gift wrapped and the credits hit the screen, I was still split on who won and who lost.  Well played, Edgerton.

I won’t say that Edgerton’s first go-round in the director’s chair is perfect – it moves a little slow and feels a tad bit long – but overall it’s a stellar psychological thriller that will give your head a nice swirl.  See it immediately.

The Lesson:

Joel Edgerton is a quality storyteller and I’m very much looking forward to whatever he directs next.

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