MOVIES – Psychological, “stalker” kind of thriller “with a twist” – you all seen that before, haven’t you? However, this time around this twist is much more subtle, of what you are used to. Australian actor and director, Joel Edgerton presents us a chilling movie with a believable story, a perfectly built up tension and convincing characters.
There’s nothing new under the sun with stalker kind of movies. Fatal attraction, Pacific Heights, Single White Female, Sleeping With the Enemy, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Bad Influence, Cape Fear, Disclosure, Fear, Unlawful Entry – to name just a few of them. One might wonder why Joel Edgerton choose his directorial debut with this movie genre, when there were already so many of them made? Well, as always…
…the devil is in the details…
Just arrived from Chicago to Los Angeles, Simon (Jason Bateman), a smart, extremely charismatic top sales executive, and his wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall) runs into a strange man (Joel Edgerton) Simon barely remembers from high school in “The Gift.” They are shopping for accessories for their new place when Simon has a chance encounter with Gordo (Edgerton), who has to remind Simon they went to high school together.
With his disastrous haircut and facial hair, his trying-too-hard earring and his social awkwardness, Gordo immediately comes across as the kind of guy who has you considering your exit strategy five seconds after he starts talking to you. Simon tries to suggest that to Robyn, but she ignores the signals (perhaps on purpose) and gives Gordo just enough information for Gordo to insert himself into their lives.
After a while Gordo leaves gifts for Robyn and Simon on their doorstep. He shows up at their home in the middle of the day, while Simon is at work — and even though Robyn thinks Gordo’s a little odd, she seems to recognize a little bit of a kindred spirit, a fellow wounded soul. She lets him in…
This gift is truly a surprise
Without wanting to spoil too much, let’s just say that there will be quite some surprises concerning the character developments of every major players of this cruel game. Joel Edgerton is just as perfect with his directing and camerawork as with his own acting of Gordo. We feel the tension growing up between Simon and Gordo, while Rebecca Hall is getting torn between the two of them (and not in a way you would expect). All three actors give a terrific performance.
Yes, there are missteps as well. Some scenes (like the one at Gordo’s house) feels a bit off, and some of Simon’s decisions are quite illogical and stupid – and not in a way it should add more depth to his character. We also fail to learn substantial information about some past events which are actually quite important to the story.
Still, The Gift is a surprisingly good, low budget psychological thriller, with and ending which will truly surprise even the fans of the genre.