The Gift, written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton is a film that can be described in a few words; subtle, suspenseful and wholly engaging. From the moment this film began to its very last scene I was addicted to this film. Every dialogue exchange, every quiet pan, I was completely under the control of this film and never wanting to miss a second.
In the Gift we become entangled within the story of married couple Robyn and Simon, played by Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman as one of them is reunited with an old high school friend, Gordon (Gordo), played by Joel Edgerton. Things seem friendly at first but soon take a chilling turn as a dark mystery/revenge plot begins to unfold.
So what I absolutely must start with first is Joel Edgerton. This is an actor who I’ve been noticing more and more over the past few years and have always seen him as a an actor who you can count on to deliver a strong performance even if he isn’t in or near the starring role. So it came as some surprise when the credits rolled on this film and I saw that he not only delivered a faultless performance but that he had also written and directed this film as well. Even more incredible is that this is his first feature film that he has directed. Going forward from this film Joel Edgerton will now be someone much higher on my watch list – not only as an actor but now a writer and director. The Gift is a film that will certainly elevate him.
Along with the faultlessness of Edgerton are the other two main actors in the film, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. They like their director/co-star never miss a beat in this film. I was blown away by how brilliant Bateman’s performance was in this film; it is safe to say that this is without a doubt his best work as an actor. There’s something welcoming about him but as the film progresses he transforms (slowly, overtime). He evolved with the film and I was truly conflicted on how I felt about his character at the end. I’m really excited to see more of this type of work from him going forth.
Rebecca Hall is also brilliant within the film. She is the back bone of the film, the character/actress that is there to help bring the audience along and she couldn’t be more perfect for the job. You can connect with her character and you can begin to understand the troubles that she is facing. I really think that it is Rebecca Hall who carries this film (in a way) and how it is all handled is one of the many reasons why this film just effortlessly works.
I want to jump back to Joel Edgerton for a minute, more specifically his character Gordon, actually both really. Edgerton brings something truly unsettling to his character, the eyes specifically. They are like these dark pits that emotions seems to get pulled into and churned up. Every moment that he is on screen is a moment that is uncomfortable while also intriguing – which then leads onto the whole feel of this film.
The Gift is a film that never lets you get comfortable, there is always a feeling of unease and it always feels just around the next corner. But what’s great about how the films handles this power that it has over you, is that unlike other films within this genre, it doesn’t constantly overuse that fear. It makes you sit there in it, slowly stirring and leaving you to almost be begging for it to do something just so that unease can be over with. There’s a cruel ingeniousness to it, and it is one that perfectly complements the film.
What the film also gets right is the subtlety in which it handles its plot. The Gift is a film that slowly over time reveals more tid bits of information, like sand in an hour glass. It also doesn’t treat you like an idiot; the film doesn’t stop for obvious, in your face exposition. Revelations feel natural and following along with the story feels real and it feels important. I was continuously engaged with The Gift and I always wanted more.
The Gift is the perfect example of having the audience in the palm of your hands, yet even with such control it still delivers a film that is far above others like it. There are deep and interesting characters, wrapped within a story that keeps you hooked, in a world that frightens you but you still want more of it.
I am definitely recommending The Gift. This film will stay in my mind for a while and all for good reasons. I am really excited to see more of what Joel Edgerton as a director has to offer and you absolutely need to see this film.
What did you think of the Gift, let me know in the comments down below. If you want to keep up with my other stuff then maybe give me a follow on Twitter, @GavinsTurtle. Finally, enjoy your weekend.