The Gift

Personal Space Invaders


The Gift is one of those films that is easily slept on. I’m sure lots of people haven’t heard of it and those who have probably weren’t trembling with anticipation for the film.

Like the 2011 film Limitless this is a surprisingly good film. It holds a lot more depth and subtlety than the trailer would have you believe. More importantly it has something that is notoriously rare: a stunning ending.

The best way to see this film is without knowing much about it which makes my job here super difficult. I need to convince you that this film is (nearly) a must see film whilst telling you as little as possible.

The film’s plot is simple. Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) moves in close proximity to his old childhood home where he happens to bump into ‘Gordo’ (Joel Edgerton); an old school acquaintance of Simon’s. Gordo quickly becomes a bit too forcefully friendly verging on stalker-ish. Why? Well there is some buried history between the two… That’s all I’ll say.

If you watch th… No. When you watch this be sure to stick with it because it’s a slow burn. The film is all too happy to build up with only gentle, rolling, ebbs and flows. Tense scenes within the new house do just enough to keep your interest and the slow build up of animosity between Gordo and the new residents will routinely pique your intrigue with these characters.

In this respect I found it had a similar vibe to this year’s excellent Ex Machina. At some point this slow build up seems to stop and settle into an overly tidy and subsequently disappointing conclusion. It’s only later you realise this tepid section of the film is used for a higher purpose: to emphasise one of the most striking endings you have seen in a film.

Not only is the ending powerful and unerving but it holds such a simple concept that it buries itself deep under your skin.

Only because of the ending did everyone, and I mean everyone, exit the screening vocalising how good the film was, how creepy the ending was, how it was not like what they were expecting but in a good way.

There’s not a lot to dislike about The Gift. If might be a little but slow for some people but it’s beautifully scripted, shot and edited.

The only minor complaint I can come up with is that the characters are more complicated than you first imagine yet there is little evidence of this throughout the film to support this. Adding a few subtle hints throughout would allow minds to wander, trying to guess what’s going to happen and attempting to fill in the blanks. That’s part of the fun with a thriller, right?

If I was to be picky, and seeing as how I’m writing this I guess I am, I’m not sure Jason Bateman was the right person for the role of Simon. His performance was perfectly fine but his face doesn’t fully fit his on screen persona just like my face doesn’t fit a clean shave!

The whole film has that uneasy and eerie vibe like Gone Girl which should be compliment enough for you to go see The Gift. When you realise this was written and directed by Joel Edgerton (Gordo) as one of his first films it’s a shame that more people aren’t getting up close and personal with this film.

Go See

  • Worth it for the ending
  • Decent build up
  • Technically solid

Avoid

  • Too slow for some
  • Doesn’t feed you enough clues
  • Bateman mis-cast perhaps

Overall

4-stars

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