These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.
When the first trailer landed, I thought this was going to be a generic slasher film that wouldn’t be as gimmicky as, say, THE PURGE. Although, it was interesting to see Jason Bateman in a role that wasn’t comedic. So at the very least he’d be good. Joel Edgerton is pretty hit-or-miss for me, not a bad actor, but not always in the best of movies. But I’m also an avid fan of Rebecca Hall, so if it isn’t apparent, I was interested in the cast more than the movie. Of course, as soon as it was released, early and initial reviews seemed to rave about how good it was. Fun fact as well, Edgerton directed this. His debut. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Bought my ticket, had a drink, began watching.
Starring: Joel Edgerton (GRINGO , IT COMES AT NIGHT , LOVING , BLACK MASS , and upcoming films BOY ERASED  and STINGRAY ), Jason Bateman (GAME NIGHT  and ZOOTOPIA ), Rebecca Hall (PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN , THE BFG , and upcoming films HOLMES AND WATSON  and A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK ), Busy Philipps (I FEEL PRETTY ), and Beau Knapp (DEATH WISH , BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK , SOUTHPAW , and upcoming films DESTROYER  and VANDAL )
Director/Writer: Joel Edgerton (directorial debut; penned JANE GOT A GUN  and the upcoming BOY ERASED and THE KING )
Composers: Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (stuff I’ve never heard of, and upcoming films BOY ERASED and SIBERIA )
Cinematographer: Eduard Grau (GRINGO, and the upcoming BOY ERASED)
Editor: Luke Doolan (GRINGO and COLOSSAL )
This is my honest opinion of: THE GIFT
Married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) just bought a new house in California after moving from Chicago. They go around trying to fix it up and make whatever additions they need when they encounter a socially odd man named Gordon (Joel Edgerton), or rather “Gordo.” Turns out that he and Simon used to go to high school together. Well, also turns out that Simon may not have treated Gordo with the most respect. Somehow, Gordo figures out where the two of them live and starts giving them gifts and dropping by unannounced. Initially, Robyn is alright with him being around, but Simon shows that he’d rather have Gordo leave them alone.
I was shocked at how good this movie was. Clarification, Edgerton directed AND wrote this film. This is an unbelievably well-thought-out, well-crafted story for someone who hasn’t done anything of this magnitude before. So kudos to this man.
Now while making the protagonist a bad guy in the end isn’t exactly an original idea, it’s certainly done in a way where there is no good or bad guy in the end, at least between the two characters Simon and Gordo. Robyn is still pretty much the middle-woman who remains the pure-hearted one. I guess this story needs at least ONE good character. Honestly, possibly one of my favorite aspects about the film is how unpredictable it was. I found myself completely lost in the story and every twist and turn was a true-to-form twist. Even if someone wouldn’t necessarily classify these events as twists, they are still played out in a way that I didn’t see coming.
Should I even bother with the acting? Edgerton’s great, a perfect blend and transition from socially awkward, but polite and courteous, to devious, and quietly sadistic. It’s a very organic and natural progression that is a truly unique performance that I haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. A true scene stealer, especially at the end. Bateman’s pretty solid in anything that he does, but it’s always standard comedy fare that we come to expect from him. This isn’t a bad thing per se, they say you should always play to your strengths, but it’s always nice to see these actors known for one genre branch out and really showcase their range, and Bateman delivers an outstanding performance. Perfectly progressing from the all-American, wholesome, good-guy husband to a prime example of how to write a cold and unremorseful ass-wipe.
I suppose if I had one gripe in this movie would be Robyn. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Hall makes her very likable and is the only decent character in a sea of morally ambiguous men. It’s her character’s drug addiction. It… kind of comes out of left field. There’s no hint that she ever had any problems like that before until things at home become complicated. This is almost half-way through the movie too. Again, no build-up whatsoever.
Which also brings about mixed feelings about the semi-twist ending over whether or not Gordo raped Robyn. This was brought about when she kind of over-dosed on pills, the same ones the movie sort of just threw into the mix with no rhyme or reason. So it makes me think… were these pills just a tool so that Robyn would pass out and lead into the whole “did he, didn’t he rape her” thing? If so, I kind of see right through it. If the pill addiction was written better, I might have a less sour taste in my mouth, but I suppose either way, what they did with it was well-written, even if it was sloppily inserted to begin with.
Honestly, that one little gripe is overshadowed by what the film did so well by comparison. It’s atmospheric as hell, well-written characters that are not always clearly defined as good or bad, and… just wow. Edgerton, I hope this isn’t the last movie you ever do, sir. This was great. I had low expectations and you blew me away.
My honest rating for THE GIFT: 5/5