THE GIFT [2015]

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Directed and Written by Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton

This post will be brief, as the less you know about this film, the better. This post doesn’t contain anything at all that could be considered a spoiler; this is simply my reaction to a film that you should go blind into – I went on a total information black-out regarding this flick before seeing it, reading only a few reviews. I’m glad I did this.

I have been a fan of Joel Edgerton for a few years now. From Animal Kingdom to the upcoming Black Mass, he is steadily making a name for himself as one of our top exports. Joel writes, directs and stars in this thriller, so my expectations were probably set a little too high. While this is very far from a bad movie, it was missing something, something small; like a recipe that has been perfectly cooked but is missing one spice that makes it the meal it is.

Edgerton and DOP Eduard Grau have created a fantastic looking movie from a technical standpoint, with each shot being purposeful, often zooming slowly in or panning across very slowly. The acting is also stellar – Bateman shows his range – performing well in a dramatic setting, and puts forward the best performance of the film. Edgerton is also fantastic as old friend Gordo – his demeanour subtle yet unsettling, while his actions have an ambiguous nature to them. They will have you thinking each time. There are many different ways other parts of this film can be interpreted too. It is a simple tale but the way it is told can be perceived in many different ways.

This movie also twists in ways that make you think – sometimes forcing you to reassess the entire movie so far – and again a lot of the events are presented ambiguously, allowing room for thought and contemplation well after the credits roll. It is certainly a movie I’d love to watch again.

But, as mentioned, it felt like something was missing. The first thirty or so minutes are very sedate, and the rest of the movie doesn’t possess the suspense that I was expecting from the story as it unfolded. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, I did not feel any tension. I did not feel immersed. The movie coasts along breezily, at times using a few jump scares – a technique which I have never liked and consider a lazy way to write a scene. The movie did not evoke much emotion from me, despite the well written story and the superb acting. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It isn’t… intense enough. There is an energy that is lacking. At least, that was how I felt after it finished. I did however think the ending was fantastic and again, ambiguous in nature. Very anti-Hollywood, which I approve of. I saw this with a group of people and we came out with varying opinions on what certain parts of the movie meant, and had a good half-hour discussion afterwards.

The Gift is a great and simple concept that falls just short of its potential. Still, a solid directorial debut from Edgerton. He definitely has a good eye. Unfortunately the last film I saw him involved in – Felony – suffered from the same problem as this film. There was a lack of urgency, a lack of energy driving this film. It resulted in a good watch but considering the story, it feels like that there should have been a menacing atmosphere present. The way the soundtrack is handled doesn’t help in this regard, and it is here we begin to see the roughness around the edges of Joel’s debut. Let’s hope he can inject some energy into his next project.

20 Comments on “THE GIFT [2015]

  1. Like your take, Jordan. The first third felt pretty standard to me, in the same cut of other psycho stalker movies. But, the rest I felt was very compelling and subversive. I do think the score was kinda meh, however. I loved The Gift, and will be buying on Blu-Ray. One of my favs of the year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jordan, I’ve been hearing a ton of praise about this one, interesting that you didn’t think it was that good. I still might rent it though as I REALLY admire Edgerton as an actor and curious to see how he fares as a director. Felony was excellent in terms of its performances but yeah, the film itself left me wanting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I love Edgerton, perhaps why I had high expectations for this one. Its not bad at all but like Felony, it felt like it lacked a little energy. Definitely worth a watch though

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What’s up man, good to see a new post! You’re slacking on your duties over here, I see. 😉 😉 haha! Any more luck on getting that graphic to work on your page? Email me back if you need any help with that

    As for this, I will have to put on my Negative Nancy hat here. I can’t disagree with your review more, because I really thought one of the things that defined The Gift was a precisely cultivated atmosphere of dread, doubt and suspicion. As I was watching I couldn’t be more uncomfortable, especially in the final 10 or so minutes. But that’s interesting to read a different perspective. Respectfully I’ll disagree with ya here but it’s always a pleasure reading what you have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I bought some weed man, it bombed me out, couldn’t write for two weeks. Not doin that again, now I remember why I stopped!!

      All good man, I love the blogosphere and all the different opinions. It felt like the movie should have had me really leaning forward, but for some reason I wasn’t. I’ll definitely be buying it on BR though, its a movie that needs to be seen more than once i think

      Like

  4. I’m kind of leaning toward watching this. Not my usual thing but lots of people liked it. I definitely appreciate your perspective. Weird how differently we can each react to the same movie. But a movie that’s made to prey on your fears only works for you if you share those fears.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Too bad the energy wasn’t there. This looks pretty interesting. I look forward to seeing it. I’ll let you know what my thoughts are but you pretty much always hit the nail on the head so I think I’ll feel the same way.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: MY TOP 20 FILMS OF 2015 | epileptic moondancer

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