Joel Edgerton’s “The Gift” is this year’s “Gone Girl.” It’s one of the most irredeemably dark and nasty thrillers made in years and one of the best films of 2015, easily. It’s packed to the brim with morbid undertones, despicable circumstances, and characters that always walk in shades of grey. Despite audiences being able to identify who the protagonists are, they’re brutally unlikable people that all pretty much build the foundation for truly dire consequences. I highly suggest to audiences that love a good mystery, that they completely avoid any and all spoilers, and really absorb the message and dread soaked mystery behind “The Gift” for themselves.
For a debut, Edgerton really has a fine grasp on the all the hallmarks of a fine mystery, building on a story that seems very superficially like a tale of obsession. Simon and Robyn are a married couple struggling to come to grips with a somewhat troubled past involving their efforts to have a child and build a better life for themselves. Simon moves back to his old home town in hopes of adapting to his new job. While preparing to rebuild, Simon is greeted by old acquaintance Gordon Moseley, who confronts the couple and somewhat insinuates himself between them. Gordon is a somewhat unusual man who tries hard to jar Simon’s memory, and when Simon finally begins to realize who he is, Gordon’s intentions on wedging himself in to their lives ends up becoming much more aggressive and troublesome.
Gordon seems like a nice guy at first glance, but slowly begins to introduce quirks and ticks about himself and his personality that make Simon and Robyn uncomfortable. Despite Robyn’s best efforts to see the good in Gordon, Simon is woefully uneasy around him, and soon Gordon begins displaying behavior that borders on obsession. “The Gift” begins as a somewhat fascinating look at a couple trying to overcome the past, and then have to eventually figure out how to work with Gordon whose behavior becomes much more troublesome and disturbing as the narrative develops. Director Edgerton is very good about keeping the audience in the dark for the majority of his sharp mystery, giving us glances in to the mind of Gordon, allowing us to decipher what his behavior is amounting to. As he begins leaving cryptic notes and offering Simon odd implications, Edgerton forces the audience to take second and third looks at the characters, as well as the surroundings in which they inhabit.
All around the performances are immaculate, including Edgerton, whose turn as Gordon is troubling and uncomfortable. Bateman and Rebecca Hall also supply remarkable performances as the young couple who not only learn something about Gordon, but about each other, especially when they realize Gordon is a powder keg that inevitably explodes in their faces. Edgerton knows how to balance suspense and tension beautifully, drawing Simon and Robyn’s life as something of a facade, even before we ever meet Gordon. “The Gift” never really takes any prisoners, nor does it leave any stone unturned, completely picturing a narrative where everyone is either underhanded and devious, or immensely capable of devious and underhanded deeds. Once Edgerton has relayed the inherent message behind “The Gift,” it’ll resonate for days as a powerful statement on how easily lives can be ruined by words.
Featured in the Blu-Ray release, there’s a six minute alternate ending with an optional introduction by writer, co-star, and director Joel Edgerton. There are almost ten minutes of Deleted scenes with optional commentaries by Writer, co-star and director Joel Edgerton. There’s “Karma for Bullies” a look at the film’s plot, “The Darker Side of Jason Bateman” about Bateman’s role in the movie, and two film trailers. Finally, there’s an audio commentary with director, co-star, and writer Joel Edgerton.