The Gift is a gripping and expertly told thriller which marks the directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Great Gatsby).
Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play Simon and Robyn, a couple whose move to a new town and hopes of a fresh start are disrupted by a chance encounter with one of Simon’s fellow childhood schoolmates.
Gordo, played by Edgerton who also wrote the film, has all the hallmarks of your stereotypical Hollywood stalker.
Apparently oblivious to the lukewarm insincerity of Simon’s expressed interest in catching up, he turns up uninvited to the couple’s home, leaves unsolicited gifts when they’re out and shows himself to be stubbornly impervious to Simon’s less than subtle messages to stop coming over.
At first glance The Gift seems to be little more than a knowing and stylish take on the stalker genre, complete with a Scream-esque scene in which Simon, Robyn and their pals sit around discussing Gordo’s awkward manner and openly joking about his intentions towards Robyn.
But an hour or so in and the film swings off in an expected direction to explore both the reasons behind Gordo’s peculiar behaviour and the seemingly perfect nature of Simon and Robyn’s marriage.
At this point The Gift becomes a far deeper and more satisfying film than its trailer and accompanying publicity even hints at, taking the audience through a series of shocks and upsets as the characters are each asked to face an ugly truth.
All the cast are well served by Edgerton’s writing and direction which are pitch-perfect and the film’s final few scenes are stunningly well-played by both by Edgerton and Jason Bateman who seems to relish the chance to play outside his more familiar light-hearted comedy arena.
As you’ll discover if you go see this film – and you should – seldom has such a stand-out film been so poorly marketed and while some of this stems from the difficulty in discussing The Gift without revealing its plot twists and secrets, it’s disappointing that the marketing team haven’t done better.
Out August 7th.