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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Gift | Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT

 

The Gift

Every now and then a movie comes around that puts a new and original twist on a particular genre.  The Gift is one of those flicks.  Versatile, Aussie actor, Joel Edgerton, proves be a triple treat, making his feature film directorial debut with this first rate psychological thriller that he also wrote and co-stars in, and will take you by surprise in ways you never suspected. Forget what you've seen in the trailers. There is so much more than meets eye.

Edgerton plays Gordon "Gordo" Moseley, a mysterious, odd fellow who intrudes into the lives of security systems sales exec Simon Callem (Jason Bateman) and his interior designer/consultant wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall) who have just moved from their Chicago condo to their newly bought, mid century modern home in Los Angeles, where Simon grew up.

While shopping at a home décor store Simon and Robyn are approached by Gordon who says the guys went to high school together, although Simon doesn't remember him, at first.

Soon Gordo starts leaving gifts at Simon's front door beginning with a bottle of wine, then filling the couple's small outdoor pond with koi, and so on.  When he shows up unannounced, Robyn feels the need to return what seems to be his friendly, cordial gestures by inviting him over for dinner.  Although sensing something strange, Robyn feels sorry for Gordo while her husband becomes more and more uncomfortable about the guy he now recalls was nicknamed “Gordo the Weirdo” back in their school days. That was then, and now Gordo's relentless quest to inject himself into the Callem's private lives is becoming more than just a nuisance as it escalates into dangerous territory.  What his motives are and how and why his presence (and presents) become more menacing is eventually revealed.

So as not to give any more away, suffice to say each of the three main characters have some issues from their history that are revealed and figures into the unfolding storyline. While Robyn still hasn't gotten over her miscarriage and is eager to start a family with the man she married and thought she knew, she discovers some disturbing information relating to his sins of the past that have come back to haunt him.

The set up may be familiar (think "Pacific Heights," "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle")  but Edgerton takes the premise to whole new level. Not only has he proven to be an excellent actor with an eclectic film resume that includes “Kinky Boots”, "Animal Kingdom," "Warrior", “Zero Dark Thirty”,  2013's "The Great Gatsby," and TV's Exodus: G-ds and Kings, with The Gift, Edgerton emerges as a masterful storyteller and skilled director, with his superbly crafted, beautifully executed, absorbing script in which he slowly, meticulously builds tension and intrigue.  What he delivers is a surprisingly bloodless, taut psychological thriller, key word being “psychological”, that is more about messing with your head than being yet another typical, violence filled drama.

The Gift features three pitch perfect lead performances. Hall, from whose point of view is the central focus, carries the film's emotional weight, and draws you in to her dilemma. Bateman, mostly known for his comedy roles (Horrible Bosses and its sequel), proves he has more depth and isn't afraid to tackle drama and inhabit the persona of a shady, morally deficient, character. And Edgerton, who knows his character better than anybody, since he wrote it, does a fantastic job as the deeply troubled Gordo, that, although creepy and menacing, somehow is able to capture our sympathy.

The Gift has all the right elements, along with a very strong anti bullying message.  Chilling, unpredictable and with an unusual twist, The Gift is one of the best psychological thrillers in years. Give yourself a gift and see it at your local cinema.

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