Actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut is an impressively tense and thrilling study of bullying and its consequences. It’s a movie that keeps its audience on their toes, constantly second guessing, whilst sitting on the edge of their seat.
Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play Robyn and Simon – a well off couple who have recently moved to their beautiful new home in Hollywood. Soon after their transition, they bump into one of Simon’s former classmates from school whilst out shopping – the suspiciously nice Gordo played by Edgerton himself.
The awkward exchange ends with the couple taking the number of Gordo, but it is he who makes the next move, leaving a bottle of glass cleaner (for the couple’s big fancy windows) on their doorstep the following day. Accompanying the bottle is a card which outlines an offer for Simon to let “bygones be bygones”. It’s from this point on that things begin to take a sour turn.
Edgerton’s debut in the director’s chair is an excellent exploration into the genre’s conventions and his credit behind the screenplay is also to be commended for the constant changing of the audience’s minds. The Gift’s various deceptions and reversals make for an intriguing and captivating watch, all the while maintaining that thrill factor.
The performances are also a key component of the film – all three main actors are incredibly versatile and expertly cast. Bateman plays the confident man of the house, off at work during the day whilst the vulnerable Hall stays at home under the peering eye of the creepy Edgerton. The roles of each actor change throughout the film as more information about Gordo and Simon’s past surfaces, reigning in the issue of bullying and altering our perspective of the film’s protagonists.
It’s an excellent way for Edgerton to make his directorial debut, a movie that revisits a classic genre. Constantly second-guessing its audience, The Gift is unnerving, unexpected and exceptionally tense.