The Gift

Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall
Directed by Joel Edgerton
Rating: D

An old high school buddy pops up in Simon’s life when he moves back to his hometown, but his old friend is a little too overbearing with his expensive gifts.

Some people just don’t change and growing up doesn’t guarantee maturity. Gordo (Edgerton) is the same as Simon (Bateman) remembered when a random encounter sparks the re-connection. When Gordo keeps leaving unwanted gifts at Simon’s doorstep, he can’t understand why he would deserve it.

Simon and his wife, Robin (Hall), have moved from Chicago to start fresh after a few unfortunate incidents occurred in their old home. Robin appreciates Gordo’s kindness, even if he is awkward. Her husband’s rudeness in cutting off a developing friendship between them puts a strain on their marriage. Gordo hints that something had happened in the past with Simon that he was willing to forgive. Robin’s curiosity grows as her husband covers lie after lie of what happened to Gordo in high school.

Simon isn’t the only one with a secret. Robin is not deserving of any wifely gold medals when she has a little pill popping to hide. She develops an anxiety over Gordo and his gifts, psyching herself out by thinking of him intruding upon her in the house when she’s alone all day.

This thriller throws twists and turns every which way. One strength of The Gift is its ability to use suspense throughout the movie without it getting too boring. Up until the last few minutes there’s still a continuation of surprises, however, it borders on ridiculousness. Secrets clearly tear at this couple, who are working through some personal struggles, but include a mysterious old high school “friend” and the intrigue rises.

None of these characters are that likable, which doesn’t mean a movie can’t be good because of that. Between the creepiness of Gordo and his passive-agressive demeanor and Simon’s guilty secret and Robin’s knack to stir trouble, all adds up to terrible people that you don’t want to root for. At first, there are likable characters but then their true personality unfolds and it’s ugly. It’s hard to be happy for them when one is just a bully who will destroy people’s lives to get ahead in life while another let’s themselves be bullied into letting go of their dreams.

The Gift starts out unsettling enough by introducing the old friend with stalker tendencies and a gripping plot when he keeps sending them nice gifts, but gifts they don’t want from him. As the movie progresses, there were plenty of opportunities to handle the situation and the couple let it escalate to a dangerous level. By the end it’s hard to know if it’s worth liking anyone. Do you sympathize with the misunderstood stalker or the jerk who kind of deserves what comes to him?

What had potential to be a great thriller only ended up disappointing with its character development. Or maybe I just don’t like movies that support the antagonist.


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