Tuesday 9 July 2024

The Gift - 2015 film review

The Gift begins in a conventional way. A glamorous couple, Simon and Robyn Callem (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) are house-hunting in Los Angeles, having moved from Chicago, where they obviously enjoyed quite a bit of success. He's a thrusting and ambitious businessman, she is a freelance designer, slightly introspective. They find an upmarket new residence and set about putting their own imprint on it. Then they bump into Gordon ('Gordo') Moseley (Joel Edgerton), who says he is an old schoolfriend of Simon's. 

Simon seems reluctant to acknowledge their connection, but Gordo leaves a bottle of wine on their doorstep as a present and wangles an invitation to dinner. But there is something slightly 'off' about him, and Robyn's doubts increase when he gives them a more lavish gift of koi carp and then invites them to dinner. Soon, this faintly creepy relationship turns sour.

So far, so predictable. There's nothing unusual about home invasion thrillers. But Edgerton - who wrote and directed the film as well as playing a key role - has various surprises up his sleeve. I anticipated some of them, but not the cleverest twist of all, which comes near the end and creates an unsettling mood of uncertainty about the consequences of the encounters between these three people, all of whom are troubled in their own way.

Spoiler alert - nobody dies in this film, and there is nothing too gruesome on screen. But Edgerton cleverly maintains tension throughout and the result is a subtle and suspenseful film that, even though it traverses familiar ground, does so in a relatively fresh way. The three lead actors are all very good, and so is the script. 

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