Campaigns like “It Gets Better” like to pretend that bullying ends after High School but what happens when the emotional scars given during the teenage years run so deep that they become just the beginning of an entire life of torment and disappointment? That’s the question asked by The Gift, the new psychological thriller from writer/actor/director Joel Edgerton.
When Edgerton’s character Gordo reconnects a with a former schoolmate and his wife (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall), Bateman at first pretends not to remember Edgerton and then grudgingly recalls a casual friendship, but as the cracks begin to grow in both Edgerton’s sanity and Bateman’s tolerance the truth that creeps out becomes uglier than anyone can imagine, with Hall’s safety and the relationship she thought she had with Bateman hanging in the balance.
To say anymore about The Gift’s twisting, turning Gone Girl-esque plot would be to reveal too much of what I thought made it so great. Even the full length trailers, which I was lucky enough to have somehow avoided before actually viewing the film, give away a twist or two that lose some bite outside of the context of the film itself and the tension Edgerton is able to build within its small scale framework. Characterization and performances are uniformly great all around, selling the shades of grey the two opposing main characters operate in, neither being characterized as purely “good” or “bad”, with the audience deciding for themselves who to root for even in the film’s somewhat uncomfortable climax. Edgerton directs admirably, sometimes wearing his influences a bit too close to his sleeve in regard to suspense masters like Hitchcock, Kubrick and DePalma but still finding quite the voice of his own in the way certain shots are staged and lit.
Definitely see this one as soon as possible before the whole internet spoils it and foists it’s opinions and interpretations upon the world. This is a late summer sleeper that’s definitely going to catch a lot of people by surprise, and hopefully mean a bright future for Bateman as a Dramatic Actor and Edgerton as a Director.
The Gift opens this Friday August 7th.