This Gift Is Very Welcome
Joel Edgerton has slowly, but surely, been working his way through Hollywood, racking up acting credits, writing credits and now he adds his first full length directed feature (which he also wrote & stars in) to the ever growing list with The Gift. A taut thriller/drama that does what precious few other films in similar genres do. Just like Edgerton’s career so far, the film methodically moves forward, building the story and fleshing characters out, without ever rushing to make you scared or jump, all the while building to a well conceived climax.
The Gift follows a young married couple, Robyn (Rebecca Hall) & Simon (Jason Bateman), as they move into a new house close to where Simon used to live. Shortly after the move they bump into Gordon ‘Gordo’ Mosely, a man who used to go to school with Simon. An awkward friendship follows with Gordo providing gifts for the couple, with Robyn appreciative and Simon not so much. After Simon severs the friendship events begin to take a dangerous turn, and a mysterious past begins to rear it’s ugly head.
One of the great things about The Gift is how patient it is as it weaves through the story, at no point does it rush itself or push the story forward for the sake of running time or thrills. It does occasionally border on taking too much time, and for those looking for quick thrills it might be a bore, but if the silence of the packed auditorium I was in is any indication, people were hooked. Even as it comes to the final third it doesn’t sprint to the finish line, letting everything come together organically.
However the absolute best aspects of the film are the characters and the acting. Writing great characters is one thing, but if you have the wrong people trying to fill their shoes the impact of those characters is less effective. Here we have believable, human characters, played impeccably by the cast, chief amongst them are Jason Bateman & Joel Edgerton as Simon & Gordo. Bateman in particular is fantastic with a performance that is punctuated by his abundance of comedic,light hearted roles.
Aside from stretching the pace ever so slightly The Gift does everything near perfectly. For a directorial debut Joel Edgerton has shone brilliantly, and The Gift should stand as a testament as to what can be achieved when a film is supported and developed without studio interference. Blumhouse Productions are on their way to becoming a studio powerhouse, and their approach to film making and talent sourcing is just as impressive as this film.
I can’t recommend The Gift enough, it has brilliant acting, great characters and is a pretty darn good parable too. Following directing and writing this film, and writing The Rover, the future of Joel Edgerton is just as exciting behind the lens as it is in front of it. The tagline may read ‘Not every gift is welcome’, but this one most certainly is.