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Triangle Downtowner Magazine

Movie Review: The Gift

Aug 11, 2015 11:13AM ● By Davis Johnson
Easily described as a Hitchcockian thriller, The Gift is a psychological film that shows the audience nothing is as it seems. It’s slow pace at the beginning lulls the audience into a false sense of knowing what’s going to happen next, only for everything to be turned upside down. If you think the trailer tells you everything you need to know about the movie, then you’re absolutely wrong. It just barely scratches the surface.

                                                    WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Simon (Jason Batemon) and Robyn Callen (Rebecca Hall) are a happily married couple who have just moved into a luxurious new home in Los Angeles. While out shopping for house decorations, they are approached by man who introduces himself as Gordo (Joel Edgerton). It turns out that Simon and Gordo were former classmates in high school and have not seen or spoken to each other since then. Simon barely remembers the man at all and, after an awkward conversation, manages to leave.

Gordo starts to drop by unannounced, which greatly unnerves Simon. During one of these visits, Robyn decides to have Gordo stay for dinner. The evening is far from comfortable for the couple as Gordo leads awkward conversations. One of which goes into depths on Simon’s campaign for Student President. After Gordo leaves, Simon fully remembers Gordo and that everyone in school called him “Gordo the Weirdo”.

The next day the two find a wine bottle on their doorstep, a thank you from Gordo for dinner. The following day there’s a koi pond in their yard along with fish food. Simon is put off by Gordo’s attempts at friendship and wants nothing to do with him. Whenever Robyn tries to talk to Simon if anything happened in high school, he becomes defensive and refuses to discuss the matter. The couple decides to further distance themselves from Gordo after he leaves a note apologizing for any misgivings and that he was willing to let ‘bygones be bygones’. Simon still continues to refuse discussing his past with Gordo, leaving Robyn concerned for her safety and mental health.

The Gift marks Joel Edgerton’s debut as director and he does not fail to impress. The subtle shifts of tone leaves the audience unguarded for the shock factors and mental manipulation that Joel manages to pull off. Every moment has fluidity and purpose thanks to the impeccable script, which Joel wrote! The casting alone was perfect for the movie as Jason Bateman managed to fully embody a simple everyday husband that could easily be looked over, only to bring about an underlying, personal agenda. Rebecca Hall’s character is easily seen as the least complicated, but her performance easily has crowds concerned for her well-being throughout the movie.

This movie prevents any sense of security for its viewers and leaves them baffled over the lengths some people will go for their own desires. Several messages are incorporated into this film, one of them being that the world is a rat race where the strong will do whatever they want and the weak are nothing more than obstacles in their way. Another being the old saying ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’. You can put up a facade for so long before your true nature rears its head from the shadows. Do yourself a favor and go see this movie as soon as you can.