Verdict: 4.5 / 5
Joel Edgerton’s Hitchcockian directorial debut film, The Gift, is rock solid. It’s a psychological thriller that comments on modern day issues like privacy, security, and bullying.
In his own suspenseful screenplay, Edgerton casts himself as a loser “Gordo the weirdo” who attempts to befriend a successful former classmate Simon (Bateman). When Gordo appears at their home unannounced, bearing a gift, Simon is uneasy but his wife (Rebecca Hall) is easily charmed by his friendship. It’s not long before Gordo becomes an unwelcomed guest and past secrets come back to haunt everyone.
Despite the familiarity of the stalker-thriller setup, The Gift is remarkably unpredictable and Edgerton manages to flip the template on its head. What should be a by-the-numbers suspense becomes an intriguing morality tale that is well fleshed out. Thankfully, Edgerton is confident and orchestrates playful tension throughout.
The cast (Edgerton, Bateman and Hall) all deliver believable and unnerving performances. Everyone is perfectly cast and play well off each other’s strengths. Edgerton is a master puppeteer and, with the help of his cast, manages to get his story to evoke a whole rollercoaster of emotions. You will laugh, cry, be afraid, angry, sad and surprised.
The Gift is really smart filmmaking. It plays well off the audience’s expectations and delivers something truly surprising. It’s definitely one of the best films of 2015.