The Gift


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Gift
"The film is polished when it could have been sharp."

Playing games and then changing the rules for dramatic effect is cheating. Says who? Polanski did it to great effect in Rosemary's Baby and now writer/director/actor Joel Edgerton attempts a similar twist in a minor key.

The scenario is off the peg. Nothing original yet. Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a typical upwardly mobile couple from Chicago, drawn to California for his better job. They are follow-the-dots charming and rich enough to afford one of those movie set houses on the hill.

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By chance, it seems, Simon bumps into Gordon (Edgerton), a high school acquaintance, better known as Gordo The Weirdo, who becomes Robyn's stalker and Simon's nemesis.

In the paranoid plot ratings The Gift remains a steady 6 until near the end when it leaps a couple of points. This is the cheaty bit when it's hard to know who's telling porkies and whether they have fatal consequences.

The tension depends upon the extent that Gordo has infiltrated Simon and Robyn's lives. Is he sick enough to take that kitchen knife and use it? Are we talking revenge here, or psycho delusions? The pace, however, is slower than a heartbeat and the audience has time to question motivation and a whole lot else.

The film is polished when it could have been sharp. Bateman's performance matches everything else he has done, professionally smooth and two dimensional. Hall, on the other hand, puts real flesh onto Robyn's bones. You believe her; you empathise.

The ending is a cop out. It's like the final episode of a new TV series in which subplots are left hanging in anticipation of Season 2.

Blood dries in the veins.

Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2015
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The Gift packshot
An old acquaintance bearing gifts brings suspicion and fear into the lives of a successful couple recently moved to California
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Read more The Gift reviews:

Luke Shaw ****

Director: Joel Edgerton

Writer: Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Busy Philipps, David Derman

Year: 2015

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia, US


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