Published Aug 06, 2015A chance encounter at a home outfitting store between newly married couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman and Jessica Hall) and a former classmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton, both co-star and director) turns out to be the catalyst for a number of unnerving gifts and visits to the couple's newly purchased house in The Gift.
At first unassuming, Gordo's obsession with the couple quickly escalates, as he leaves a series of gifts at their new house, a gesture that becomes increasingly unreciprocated. This dynamic alone would make for an interesting film, but an added layer of mistrust, dishonesty and evasive personal histories entwine to form a psychological thriller with an overarching, suspenseful uncertainty. That the uncertainty is left to percolate is perhaps the most terrifying part of this film.
Unfortunately, The Gift loses much of its traction near the end, when it abruptly places its lead female character (Hall) as a pawn in the battle between the two men, a sexual offering foisted to the audience. With shrugged shoulders, director Edgerton seems to revert back to worn-out tropes instead of pursuing a more nuanced (as well as creative) approach to cap his narrative.
Still, the cast is strong. Bateman's talent is there, and Hall's anxiety is palatable, but it's Edgerton that steals the show here with his disarming dead stares, delivered with an aura of intensity. For those looking for an entertaining thriller, The Gift should satisfy.