'The Gift' - Movie Review

Aug 21, 2015, 08:00 IST | Mihir Fadnavis

'The Gift'
A; Mystery/Thriller
Director: Joel Edgerton
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman
Rating: four stars

Most of the actors in our industry can hardly do the one job they have – acting. And most of the directors struggle to make a film which doesn't have some glaring flaws. So it becomes kind of simultaneously depressing and fascinating when one sees an actor like Joel Edgerton turn director with such confidence and skill.

Watch the trailer of 'The Gift'

'The Gift', the directorial debut of Joel Edgerton is not what you expect it to be. It's a home invasion movie, but one that does not feature any home invasion tropes. It is a horror movie, without any templates of the genre. It's a thriller with a lot of dark comedy injected into it. It's a lot of things, and it somehow juggles all of these elements with the absolute perfection.

In the film Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) move into a new house after shifting from Chicago to LA, a move that they hope will help them cope with a painful abortion a few months earlier. The dynamics are interesting though – Simon is at the peak of his career, escalating in his job by leaps and bounds, getting a swanky office and becoming the darling of the company. Robyn, on the other hand is losing track of her once illustrious career and is now a housewife. Things become more complicated when Gordo (Edgerton), an old friend of Simon's from school shows up and develops a weird infatuation for the two. He keeps sending them gifts, and keeps wanting to be their friend.

The film turns from creepy to hilarious and back to bizarre a lot of times, and Edgerton somehow manages to balance the varying tones with ease. For a horror film there is a surprising amount of nuance and restraint on screen. The bits that make your hair stand at the back of your neck don't have any cheap jump scares, but pure narrative thrill. Simon dealing with Gordo's excessive friendliness often make you wonder what you would do in that scenario.

What really drives the movie home are the excellent performances from the entire cast. Edgerton is delightfully strange, while Bateman is pretentious in an endearing kind of manner. The only wasted opportunity is the superb Allison Tollman from 'Fargo' is cast in a minor role that doesn't add anything to the story. But that's only a minor complaint in an otherwise awesome movie. As far as thrillers with smart thrills go, it doesn't get better than 'The Gift'.

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