An unwanted gift
What first stroke me about Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut was how well-crafted were all the situations. He handled the dialog and the staging like he has been doing it for decades. Australian Edgerton, who played many small roles on his Hollywood tenure (you may remember him in last remake of “The Great Gatsby” playing jealous rich drunk Tom Buchannon), gave a step forward by writing and directing his baby. It came out just fine.
MOVIE: The Gift
PRODUCER: Blue-Tongue Films
With empty hands
‘The Gift’ is an emotion’s movie. The lead trio conformed by Simon, Robyn and Gordo are moved forward (or backwards) by the force of their emotions. Simon (Douchy Jason Bateman) is led by anger. Gordo (Joel Edgerton) is led by resentment. And Robyn (beautiful Rebecca Hall) is led by boredom. The interactions between them and the emotions rose are what moves the film in the direction the writer wanted. Forward? No. Again, backwards.
Because the present is always created from the facts buried in the past.
Simon and Robyn are a couple moving to sunny California from windy Chicago. The joy one state seems to have represents the darkness they have left. Robyn was pregnant and had a miscarriage. That event put her in a depressive mode she is struggling to put back. Simon, an ambitious salesman of something computer related got a new job in a firm in California and, with Robyn, who is a freelance designer, buys a huge luminous house.
Next day, the couple is shopping when a strange guy approaches Simon. They know each other. Simon and Gordo were in high school together. Gordo’s looks are kinda cringy. His hair is poorly dyed with some reddish tincture. Goatee. The only thing missing is the fanny-pack and I’m sure there is one in another scene.
Anyway, Gordo, passes from cringy to creepy when he starts to leave gifts on their front door. A wine. Fishes for a pond they have in their patio. Food for those fishes.
Simon believes Gordo has a crush on his wife and in a totally embarrassing dinner he cuts the ties.
From there… it all goes south.
Swim against the current
Against all the predictions, while ‘The Gift’ has its jump-scare moments, it’s not a horror movie. It moves well in the thriller drama genre. The film starts with the “showing the house to the new tenants” shot a lot of horror movies have made in the past (and will do in the future), but that is just a great way the director puts the spectator in an unease mode. While you are always at the expectation of to be scared you pay attention to what is really happening. A couple breaking apart. A creepy dude… with reasons. It’s not like Gordo is a good guy. He is not. He is a psychopath and it is never intended for the spectator to think otherwise. Thus, the script develops. It’s funny how in his debut, Edgerton caught a vibe that sounds so much as Hitchcock, Polanski or first Curtis Hanson. ‘The Gift’ mood and ambience has a lot in common with Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne). It’s good to know that he made his debut on a project of his own.
As said before, Edgerton filmed a very good movie with fast pace –they want to get rid of Gordo twenty minutes into the plot- and a shocking ending. No huge stars, only good actors. Bateman pulls his douchebag persona like a charm and Hall, with his regal attractive looks enlightens the screen while darkness surrounds her. Gordo, played by Edgerton itself, just blanks stare there and goes through like a silent arrow. He also has a lot of future behind the camera. The cinematography by Spanish Eduard Grau helps a lot with the tone. This is a movie of ambivalence dwelled on a marshy past. Obscure events can happen at daylight.