‘The Gift’ that’s a pleasant surprise – Joel Edgerton’s impressive directorial debut

August 6, 2015


Director: Joel Egderton

Duration: 108 minutes (US)

It is there in Joel Edgerton’s resemblance to an Apocalypse Now/Blue Velvet Dennis Hopper in his portrayal of the central protagonist, Gordo; it’s there in the Fatal Attraction-meets-Play Misty For Me-meets-The Count of Monte Cristo plot; and it’s there in the creepy Polanski-esque ambience.

By riffing on the Hollywood films of the pre-90s era, actor/writer, and now turned fully fledged feature director, Joel Edgerton, has eschewed the voguish big bangs and theatrical pyrotechnics of the modern age in order to concentrate on nuance and subtlety.

A young couple are beset by the horror of the past when Gordo crops up and enters their lives. Jason Bateman takes his first straight role as the successful and arrogant husband, Simon. Rebecca Hall is his wife, Robyn. Their chance encounter with Gordo, one of Simon’s old school acquaintances, occurs whilst out shopping. A friendly exchange and a subsequent social engagement results in said panic, fear and a dark secret thrust forward into the light.

For all of the gestures to the alternative, this is ultimately a story about the importance of good karma and of open, transparent honesty. Whilst that might sound trite and wrapped in the sort of tired cliché that would be the hallmark of a greeting card, that is not the reality on offer here. This is an enticing and riveting work propelled by gentle gear changes in mood. A film that stirs the emotions with power and poise. 

The Gift manages to circumvent brash and brassy tactics. It is all the more satisfying for it. This gift is a welcome present.  

The Gift is in cinemas from 7th August 2015.


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