A few days ago, I went to go see Joel Edgerton's The Gift, and I must say that it was one of the best theater experiences I have had all of this year. Sure, it was not an explosive blockbuster like Mad Max: Fury Road, but it was a great little low-budget thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I had to let this movie sink in before REALLY talking about it, so without further ado let's talk about it.
WARNING: Tons of spoilers ahead!!!
Yes, there will be spoilers in this review, if you have not seen the film yet and don't want to be spoiled, you can check out my YouTube review here:
Let's Get Started!
1. The Good
This film starts off with Jason Bateman's character, Simon, and his wife Robyn (played by Rebecca Hall) finding a house in his hometown to start their new life. From the very start of this movie, I was sucked in by the absolutely beautiful cinematography and yet the way the film was being shot was still causing tension, even though nothing was really happening yet. From this opening scene, you really get to know the character Robyn and begin to relate to her in a way just through the subtle hints of the script and set pieces. From the moment she lifted the crib mobile from one of the boxes she was unpacking, I knew she had been trying to have a baby, and the sadness in her eyes told me she had possibly miscarried.
Later, they run into a man from Simon's past, Gordon, or Gordo, Moseley. From the moment Gordo was introduced, I felt creeped out by his awkward presence, as he just slowly followed Simon around in a store. Almost like a predator lurking towards his prey. From this point forward he begins delivering gifts to their house and paying them visits. And within these visits I slowly began to see what kind of person Gordon was and why he is the way he is. Also during these visits, you see what kind of person Simon really is, and he revealed to be a very ugly, dishonest human being. It is at this point where the roles of Simon and Gordo almost reverse, however you can't really applaud what Gordo is doing because the innocence that is Robyn is caught in the middle of it all. This gives the movie a very conflicting revenge story, and that is precisely why I enjoyed this film!
When the already awkward "friendship" turns sour, that's when the film's tension kicks into full throttle. Robyn then figures out about these guys' past and why Gordo is possibly wanting to hurt them. She finds out about a story that Gordo was molested and Simon reported it, but it caused much backlash when kids called him gay and "Gordo the Weirdo" and also his own father attemped to murder him. But it came with a twist when it was revealed that the story of Gordo being molested was fabricated by Simon, who was the school bully at the time. At this very moment when I fully understood where Gordo was coming from, and a part of me couldn't help but feel sorry for this poor, broken soul. After finding this out Robyn goes for a routine run and when she gets home she passes out after drinking Gatorade. (That plays into the twist ending later!)
Later, Robyn forces Simon to make amends with Gordo. When Simon goes to visit Gordo in a parking garage, his apology is rejected by Gordo. This causes Simon to become unhinged and reveal his true colors when he pushes Gordo down and proceeds to beat him, warning him never to come into contact with him and his wife again. The thing that caught my eye in this scene is that Gordo is still scared of Simon, as his cries where like a frightened boy with nowhere to run, and it further progressed his character, which I liked! When Simon goes back home, he lies to Robyn and said everything went well with Gordo and he was very appreciative. This is what made me despise Simon, as he was still the same liar and bully he once was.
It is during this time when Robyn falls into Simon's deception and they proceed to have a happy life when she finds out she is pregnant again. We transition through her pregnancy and through the transitions you see the doubt in her eyes, the doubt of whether or not she wants to live the rest of her life with Simon. When one of Simon's former co-workers throws a brick through his window during a house party with other co-workers, saying that Simon fabricated documents to get him fired, revealing Simon as a fraud. Robyn's water breaks and they rush to the hospital the deliver the baby. Afterwards, Robyn says that she is not going back to the house with Simon, basically saying she wants a divorce. Also during this, he loses his job because he committed fraud. When he gets home, he finds a giant gift at his door and he proceeds to bring it inside and unwrap it, revealing a cradle and within this cradle are three smaller gifts labeled in numerical order. Here it comes, the plot twist begins to unravel and it is DARK!
THIS SPOILS THE FINALE TO THE FILM, so proceed with caution!
The first gift is a key to the house, revealing that Gordo had been inside the house uninvited. The second gift is an audio disk revealing that Gordo had been listening in on Simon and Robyn's discussion when Simon made an explicit, disgusting joke about Gordo wanting to have sex with Robyn. Then finally gift number three is a video of Gordo drugging Robyn and giving the impression that he had raped her and the baby is actually Gordo's... NOT Simon's! During all of this, Gordo pays Robyn a visit and he has a bruise on his cheek and his arm in a sling. This shows Robyn that the night Simon went out to "apologize" to him, it went down a completely different way, realizing Simon lied to her.
Simon rushes back to the hospital, but Robyn is nowhere to be found! He receives a phone call from Gordo, and Simon begs him to say that he didn't rape Robyn. And Gordo replies, "Don't worry, I didn't do anything..." then he smirks, "Or maybe I did."
The way that line was delivered by Joel Edgerton sent chills down my spine, and I felt bad for even liking this character in the first place! But it doesn't stop there, as Gordo proceeds to tell Simon to take a look at the baby for himself and it's all in the eyes. Then he delivers a line that truly wrapped up this film and placed a bow on top for me.
He says, "Now see what happens when you poison people's minds with ideas."
Then Gordo hangs up allowing Simon to rush to the nursery where he sees Robyn cradling her baby and when the baby opens his eyes, Simon sees Gordo's, causing him to fall and burst into tears. Simon has lost everything! Gordo watches Simon slowly fall apart before walking out of the hospital, and the movie ENDS!
What I like about this ending is because is is on of the greatest revenge plots brought to fruition since Old Boy! Also Robyn's baby is THE gift, thus the name of the film. In some messed up kind of way, the baby is Gordo's gift to Robyn, as he grew a liking to her kindness and he knew she really wanted a child of her own. However, this was also the perfect way to mess with Simon's head and screw up his life, returning the favor for what he did to Gordo many years ago!
This is just the greatest poetic justice I have ever seen in a film. But even though this movie is great, there are still things I don't like about this film...
2. The Bad
There are three jump scares in this film, all of them in my opinion are false, and I find that kind of lazy. And also one of the if a dream sequence, a scene of which I was really upset about! Don't get me wrong, none of these jump scares relieved my tension in the slightest, but it's still kind of irritating.
Also, throughout the film, it is made clear through references and and set pieces (including Gordo's mask in a specific scene!) that Simon has a phobia of monkeys. My problem with this is that I felt it goes nowhere with the story, I thought maybe it would be a very key element to his past with Gordo, but nothing really happens with it. Maybe I just missed something and I will certainly be looking into it more when th film hits Blu-Ray, as I think there is alot more to be savored in this film
Overall, all I have to say is that this is one of the best theater experiences I have had this entire year!