More morality play than suspense thriller, “The Gift” unwraps gradually, carefully revealing its contents in a shocking climax. Moviegoers expecting to watch a fast-paced film may squirm in their seats from the measured pacing of “The Gift,” but the payoff in the end rewards the patient viewer.
Written by, directed by and starring Joel Edgerton, “The Gift” opened nationwide Aug. 7 and is receiving excellent buzz. An outstanding 92 percent of reviews are positive and 82 percent of moviegoers liked "The Gift," according to movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which wrote the R-rated film “is wickedly smart and playfully subversive, challenging the audience's expectations while leaving them leaning on the edges of their seats.”
“The Gift” is about an upscale married couple named Simon and Robyn whose lives are forever changed after a chance encounter with Gordo, a former high school classmate of Simon’s. Jason Bateman plays the cocky, controlling Simon, and Rebecca Hall portrays his compassionate but fragile wife.
Edgerton plays the socially awkward Gordo, who tries desperately to befriend Simon. The creepy Gordo starts leaving gifts at Simon’s and Robyn’s house and drops by unexpectedly when Robyn is alone.
The seemingly kind gestures disturb Simon who believes Gordo is attracted to his wife, but Robyn disagrees. The mystery of Gordo’s gifts are linked to a troubled past as the movie transforms from a standard stalker film into a taut psychological thriller with a couple of effective jump-scares.
Despite the positive critical reception, “The Gift” is not breaking any new ground. However, the moral of the story is delivered with purpose and passion. In a time when computer-generated imagery and overwrought action sequences dominate theaters in the summertime, a well-acted low-budget thriller may be just “The Gift” for discerning moviegoers.