Warrior star Joel Edgerton shows that he’s a triple threat by writing and starring in his first full length feature flick as a director, The Gift.
The lives of a young, affluent couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall), are thrown into a tailspin when social outcast Gordon “Gordo” Mosley (Edgerton in full creeper mode) makes their (re)acquittance. Gordo – a former classmate of Simon – sets about, one disturbingly thoughtful gift at a time, to construct a relationship with the pair – building a one way friendship which begins to unravel years of lies and deceit amongst the trio.
The power in Edgerton’s creep-tastic The Gift is not in its actions, but rather the sense of paranoia which it creates. A slow-ish start builds into a well oiled thriller – making use of suspense – increasing genre clichés (creaking doors, nightmare sequences and bump-in-the-night moments) to gloriously infectious effect.
Bateman knows how to play the arrogant dickhead to a tee, while the impressive Hall – as the increasingly paranoid former-designer-turned-housewife – slowly descends further into her former pill-popping self. It’s Edgerton’s portrayal of “Gordo the Weirdo”, however, that makes the greatest impact. The less you see of him, the more you feel his presence – yet when he’s around, his piercing eyes and bumbling manner makes for brilliantly orchestrated, yet highly uncomfortable, viewing.
“The past hasn’t done with you…” is Gordo’s haunting message to an ever-desperate Simon in the film’s final half hour; words that encapsulate The Gift’s overriding agenda. Karma’s a bitch; it can bite you in the ass at any moment as Bateman’s high-flying businessman begins to encounter as events build towards a devastating conclusion.
As shocking a climax as it possesses, Edgerton’s film’s last few moments seem wholeheartedly unnecessary. Its fun is in the not knowing and the ever-curious nature that surrounds its cast, yet its final minutes slam shut too many doors that really – for the sake of its brilliantly built upon mysteriousness – don’t need closing.
The Gift is a highly polished mysterious chiller which takes the home invasion genre and gives it a fascinatingly disconcerting new look. Topped off by three splendid – yet contrasting – leading performances, it’s an exciting debut from the Aussie actor-turned-director.