The Gift

WRITTEN BY: Joel Edgerton
DIRECTED BY: Joel Edgerton
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
RATING: 4 stars

Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have recently moved to a new city close to where Simon grew up when they bump into his old schoolmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton). They exchange awkward pleasantries and Simon thinks that is the end of it until Gordo starts to infiltrate the couple's lives. He gives them a series of unwanted gifts, visits their house uninvited when Robyn is home alone and invites them to his house for dinner under false pretences. There is something not quite right about Gordo, but then, there is also something not quite right about Simon and Robyn either.

The Gift is one of those rare psychological thrillers that makes total sense and has substance. While the film is suitably scary, creepy and suspenseful, writer/director Joel Edgerton has also built a clever film around the concept of bullying that leaves the audience with a powerful message. As the film subtly developments and each character's motivations are revealed, it becomes increasingly more difficult to choose sides. Who is the true villain? Is it about justice or revenge? It is a very fascinating tale and there are several moments that will make you jump out of your seat.

Bateman often plays arrogant characters but there is always something amiable about them, perhaps even more so because he himself is so endearing. In The Gift, he again portrays that role, but this time, he is grittier and there is something unsettling about Simon. In contrast, Hall represents Robyn as meek and non-confrontational. They are a complex couple but they seem happy together before things start to unravel. The actors have some great scenes together working through that dynamic. Meanwhile, Edgerton lost quite a lot of weight and looks very different in this film. He depicts Gordo as despicable, weak and sinister, but also gives him enough softness to make audiences question their feelings towards him.

As much as The Gift is an exciting thriller, it is also a captivating examination of human nature and how our past can come back to haunt us.