Cinematic Releases: The Gift

We review this week's other cinematic offering, The Gift.

"They do not realize how
aroused I am right now."
I was not one of the popular kids in my school. I was introverted and dorky, which lead to me getting picked on from time to time. One particular group of girls used to torment on my walk home after school, pushing me around and ripping up my books and papers. Typical, I suppose, but I always remembered how terrible it made me feel. Years later, I went to my ten-year-reunion and saw those same girls, gathered at the bar. All of a sudden, I was transported back to being an insecure geek again, even though I had gained much self-confidence in the passage of time. That is how strong of an influence people can have over other’s lives. No matter how much we change, there are always aspects of ourselves that remain the same.

In The Gift, this theme is masterfully explored with Jason Bateman putting in one of the best performances of his career. He has been typecast as a dry-humored, snarky pseudo-straight man in the past, but he is outstanding as Simon—a man who has a past he would like to forget. Joel Edgerton is absolutely creepy as “Weirdo Gordo” a former childhood classmate who reconnects with Simon after he and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) move back to his hometown. Thus begins a sequence of events that slowly but surely spiral out of control. The pace of the film is absolutely glacial, but it builds up the suspense perfectly. Every character is well written and multi-dimensional with layers that peel back as the film progresses.

"Just another Random House scam!!"
This is one of those films that got a terrible trailer that is in no way indicative of the final product. The last movie that had a trailer this misleading was Drive and that film turned out to be fantastic. Admittedly, the first twenty minutes of The Gift is pretty routine, but what starts out as a deceptively simple premise because something subversive and dark. This film does not pull any punches and does not shy away from difficult ideas or subjects. It’s a great looking film, if not a little basic in its presentation. The universe is small, claustrophobic even, and most of the film centers on the couple and their increasingly bizarre interactions with Gordo. I found myself gradually being drawn into the plot, like a hapless explorer slowly sinking into quicksand.

The few negative aspects are a couple of lazy jump scare moments and a bland score. The music was just…there. I wish it would have had more of a tangible presence, because it would have really enhanced the atmosphere. These are small quibbles though, and overall it’s still a strong film. This is Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut (he also wrote the screenplay) and it’s amazing that he wears these many hats so well. I’m interested to see what his future projects will be. The Gift is a sleeper film that will most likely fly under the radar for a lot of moviegoers, but it is well worth the time to give it a watch.


-Michelle Kisner

StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis