“The Gift” that unwraps itself


A new home and a new start. That’s what Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) Callum look for in the movie “The Gift”, when they move from cramped, urban Chicago, to sprawling, sunny California.

But after meeting with Simon’s old high school classmate, Gordon “Gordo” Mosely (Joel Edgarton), the peace the couple was seeking is quickly shattered as lines are crossed, boundaries are invaded and truths become questionable.

Award-winning actor Joel Edgarton makes his directorial debut, which is unusual for someone who is usually seen in front of the camera. What a debut it is!

Using familiar elements from both thriller and psychological horror genres, “The Gift” is a hauntingly realistic character drama. Not only is Edgarton a whiz from the director’s chair, but his performance as Gordo is intriguing to witness.

The characters are where “The Gift” really shines. There are many layers to each of the three main characters that are stripped off at just the right narrative moment. It keeps you wondering what else could be hidden underneath. Granted, a couple of plot threads aren’t as intricately woven into the overall story, but they certainly don’t detract from the flow of the film in any way.

Hall and Bateman are excellent together as the lead couple; changing and adapting to the developments their characters go through, discovering both lies and truths about themselves and the people they thought they knew. But it’s Edgarton’s role as Gordo that steals the spotlight.

Casting himself in a refreshingly diluted and smaller role, unlike what other actor directors would do, it’s the awkward subtleness that makes the viewer unsure if Gordo is just a really nice guy or truly a force to be reckoned with.

The narrative does become intricate, but not so meticulous that you need a score card to keep track of everything. Speaking of meticulous, this is a film where it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the screen. You never know what you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention.

“The Gift” is dark and disturbing at times, and not just from the thriller aspect. It is dark because of how realistic all of the events feel. There are no extreme fight scenes, no excessive violence; it is simply, at its core, a relatable, cautionary tale of mystery, chilling thrills and broken people working their way through what cards life has dealt them.