Director: Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton's directorial debut is perhaps one of the greatest surprises this year, maybe even in the past few years. Not only did Joel Edgerton direct this physiological masterpiece, but he wrote and starred in the film which is a pretty tall order if you want to make your first movie a great one.
The Gift tells the story of a young successful couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall), who move to the suburbs of Los Angeles to start a new life. However as they begin to adjust to their new life in their new home, their world turns upside down when they become reacquainted with a mysterious old high school friend of Simons, which is where things start to get a little strange...
Joel Edgerton, someone who's proved himself to be a great actor as seen in Warrior (2011), which consequently bagged him roles in bigger films such as Ridley Scott's - Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) and now Black Mass (2015), one of my most anticipated movies this year, he has now decided to take his career into directing, and what a great decision that was. Now that he's proved himself as an actor, he has now proved that he is a great directorial talent and writer who will inevitably be snatched up by the big Hollywood studios at some point. Joel Edgerton has achieved a disturbing and psychological plot with mysterious characters that you break down and discover new layers of as the film progresses.
Movies like this are the ones a love, movies that you can chip away at, movies that reveal new pieces of information that can completely change your view or emotion towards a character, and leave you with a film that you can digest and think about long after you've come out of the theatre. The great script writing, lead me to become totally immersed in the setting up of each character and establishing a tone for the rest of the movie, although this brilliant script writing did save the movie from a rather dull start as it took a while for the movie to reach the second act where things really start to get weird. The character of Gordo played by Joel Edgerton is written perfectly, with an ambiguous origin story and unpredictable and awkward personality that leads you to become transfixed to the screen whenever you see Gordo peering through a window. This is also a script that is so fascinating to see develop on screen, a script that seems to unveil character defining moments in each scene and create an excellent third act.
The Gift's marketing campaign however has not been the best. From watching the trailers my initial impressions were that this was going to be another trashy horror flick that flops in decent characters and an interesting story. If it weren't for some good word of mouth marketing I don't think I would have seen this movie or been the least bit interested in it at all, but I'm so glad that I listened. This movie is kind of a blend of two genres, it's a horror but more so of a psychological thriller, and heres why. I recently watched a review of The Sixth Sense by Chris Stuckmann, and he brilliantly touched on the fact that what made that movie so horrifying, was that it included concepts that could genuinely happen and had you gasping at the thought that something so horrifying like that could happen. And that is precisely what made The Gift so special. The Gift played on that reality horror that The Sixth Sense had brilliantly, although it doesn't include any supernatural elements, it does include real life simple horrifying concepts, guilt, remorse, hate, revenge and pride.
Visually The Gift is very attractive to look at. Excellent cinematography builds tension alongside brilliant sound design. The Gift is full of tension, and as I said its built brilliantly by silence and dark lighting that is however, conventional of the horror genre but its done without any cheesy CGI and mainstream ghosts and phantoms, just long dark silent hallways.
Jason Bateman also was a brilliant surprise. He's obviously more well known as a comedic actor who plays the same character in Comedies or Romantic Comedies, but he's now proved himself to be a great dramatic actor as well. Bateman's portrayal of Simon was brilliant, a totally unconventional casting choice to play a character like Simon but it completely paid off. I won't delve to much into the character of Simon as he is pivotal in the plot of the movie and it may spoil a few things. With Joel Edgerton who is directing and writing the movie alongside starring in it himself, it seems like a tall order to complete. Joel Edgerton plays the character of Gordo, Simon's high school friend, who seems to be a tad socially awkward and just simply...weird. Straight away you know somethings up with his character, his constant intruding on their lives and unnecessary gifts that he sends to them really make you feel uncomfortable watching this creepy character intrude on Simon and Robyn's life. Joel Edgerton is creepy, awkward, weird and an ambiguous character when playing Gordo and his performance alone is worth the admission price.
The Gift is the greatest surprise so far this year and as Jordan Belfort would say "its a benchmark for future success" on Joel Edgerton's part. This summer season of movies just gets better and better, so go check this brilliantly directed movie out. Joel Edgerton looks to be a great directorial talent and one that I'll be keeping a close eye on with regards to future productions.
Simon says go see this film.