2015 / Director. Joel Edgerton.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
If Joel Edgerton has been trying to crack the American market for the past ten years then his latest film THE GIFT should do the trick. Following THE SQUARE, FELONY and THE ROVER, this new film is his fifth as a writer and marks his directorial début. This man is not to be underestimated because if it weren't enough that he could successfully tell intelligent stories, produce them and perform in them… now he’s directing the bloody things too. Outstanding.
Simon and Robyn Callum are a married couple who move to a new city searching for a fresh start following a rough patch at their previous home. While shopping in town they run in to an old friend of Simon’s, Gordo, who immediately latches on to them and becomes that unwelcome tag-along. Before long his uninvited visits become intrusions and a more sinister manipulation begins to unravel (that’s no spoiler by the way.)
THE GIFT is a belter of a film that had me on edge for most of its duration. It employs classic tropes of the genre and recalls the sort of films that Hitchcock crafted before the likes of DePalma and Haneke fine-tuned. To Edgerton’s credit he followed a tried & true formula and was never overly ambitious. With the strength of a very suspenseful story and three remarkable performances, he has created one of the most gripping films of the year, without a doubt.
All three of the leads are excellent with Edgerton giving one of the most chilling performances I've seen this year. The real stand-out, however, comes from Jason Bateman, who knocks this one out of the park. He is brilliant as the seemingly cool and collected husband whose tolerance for mind games is tested to its limits. His character is so meticulously written that lifting his persona from the page and onto the screen cannot have been an easy feat, and Bateman’s performance is one hell of a thing to watch.
If you recall the psychotic nutter characters from films like THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, FATAL ATTRACTION and PACIFIC HEIGHTS then you will have an immediate idea of what to expect from THE GIFT. It deserves to be in their company and with a deceiving and unpredictable storyline that sets it apart, it is a psychological thriller will be sure to rattle some of the most resilient viewers.