Director: Joel Edgerton.
Screenplay: Joel Edgerton.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Joel Edgerton, Rebecca Hall, Allison Tolman, Tim Griffin, Busy Philipps, Adam Lazarre-White, Beau Knapp, Wendell Pierce, P.J. Byrne, Mirrah Foulkes, David Denman, Katie Aselton, Nash Edgerton.
“You think you’re done with the past, but the past is not done with you”
Is there no end to Joel Edgerton’s abilities? Although he’d been involved in projects before, it’s probably fair to say that it wasn’t until David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom in 2010 that opportunities began to really open up for him. He’s since went on to work with Kathryn Bigelow, Baz Luhrmann and Ridley Scott, while also penning Michôd’s impressive second feature The Rover. Now he makes his own feature length directorial debut and it would seem that we have much more to see from Edgerton’s talents. Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young married couple leading a comfortable lifestyle. Out of the blue, they meet Gordo (Joel Edgerton) an old high-school acquaintance of Simon’s who begins to make uninvited appearances at their house and always comes bearing gifts. Simon and Robyn begin to question his motives but Gordo’s motives are not the only ones in need of questioning.When you consider the plot or concept of Edgerton’s The Gift, you may be reminded of previous stalker thrillers like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or Cape Fear. On the surface, it does share some similarities with these films but Edgerton manages to put his own spin on the proceedings. The film starts with the conventional creepy stalker tropes but it soon resists these conventions by throwing in some unexpected plot developments which turn the narrative on it’s head.Edgerton wisely shows restraint and plays events down by employing a low-key edge and a deliberate pace. He’s in no rush to jump into any revelations and the character arcs are given time to play out which only adds to the tension and suitably unsettling atmosphere.
The performances also hit all the right notes; Edgerton brings the requisite portentousness to his enigmatic stranger while Bateman shows good range and balances the nuances of his character well.To speak more of the film would only give away plot developments that are better left unsaid. Suffice to say that, although as a genre piece it’s nothing new, it’s still tightly and cleverly handled and unravels as a satisfying psychological thriller that’s worthy of some attention.There’s a strong cinematic output from our Antipodean friends at the moment, of which, Edgerton seems to be spearheading and this will no doubt convince studios to invest further in his directorial endeavours.Mark Walker
Trivia: As he wanted to focus on directing, Edgerton filmed his own scenes as Gordo two weeks into shooting and completed them in seven days.