'The Gift' Review: Gordo is a Weirdo
The Gift is a dark and unnerving psychological thriller that also marks the directorial debut of Joel Edgerton, who pulls double duty as Gordo in the film. Following the unraveling lives of a couple (Jason Batemen and Rebecca Hall) after they meet Gordo, a figure from Simon's (Bateman) past, The Gift manages to completely subvert expectations and make what seems like a primarily external conflict reveal itself as one that is internal in nature.
The film toys with the audience's feelings towards the characters frequently. We empathize with the lonely Gordo, only to be horrified by the things he potentially does, yet as more and more is revealed about his relationship with Simon, the entire scope of the plot is turned upon its head. We find ourselves loathing Simon, yet feeling sorry for him simultaneously. The film subtly, then forcefully, toys with the notion of letting our inability to let the past go destroy our future, and that what we truly are inside never leaves our character. Gordo is a broken and twisted man, but ultimately, all he wants is acknowledgement, which in the grand scheme of things, is a minor gesture. Yet hubris and ego allow Simon to watch his life slowly crumble as he loses all that he loves.
The way The Gift plays with typical expectations is fascinating. We want Simon and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) to reconcile initially, but as the plot plays out, we learn that things are not what they seem. Behind the fancy new house and job, there is a darkness that neither of the pair want to acknowledge. The performances by both Bateman and Hall as lovers spiraling out of control is effective. Of course, Edgerton's chilling Gordo, brimming with a hint of innocence, is key to the film. By the end of the movie, Gordo's character is hinted at almost doing something unfathomable, and the way that scene plays out, juxtaposed with a more vulnerable Gordo, helps emphasize the range that Edgerton is portraying. All three of the main characters have something within themselves they would like to be rid of, but despite their efforts, the sins of the past come back to haunt them all.
The tension builds as you wait for the other shoe to drop, and when it finally does, it's accomplished in such an unexpected way that you're nearly left breathless by the end of the film. The Gift is less a film about a family being terrorized by one man than it is a character study into the self destructive nature of people. Some events at the beginning occur predictably, but by the midpoint of the film, you're watching something completely unique from what was advertised. Despite it's low budget (a reported $5 million), the film maintains a clean, yet dark aesthetic that makes you uncomfortable even when nothing is occurring on the screen.
A truly original psychological thriller, The Gift is a wonderfully bleak springboard for Joel Edgerton's directing career, while allows him to shine in an acting role as well. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall also give riveting performances in one of the most odd and memorably dark films of 2015.
Final Say: Watch It