The Gift (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Gift</strong> (2015)

(On Blu-ray, November 2016) I think I expected just a bit more from The Gift than I got. Which isn’t necessarily a knock against the film: Written and directed by Joel Edgerton (who also holds a pivotal role in the film), The Gift is an understated psychological thriller than eventually deals with some very primal emotions on its way to a devastating conclusion. It’s a powerful anti-bullying statement (you never know what your victims will become … or how much you’ll have to lose to their revenge), an uncomfortable suspense film and an unsettling drama as well. It plays games with our perception of the characters, not to mention exploiting Jason Bateman’s screen persona very effectively. (Bateman has often played the everyday hero, but many of his performances have had a streak of meanness to them, and The Gift plays up that looming menace exceptionally well.) Edgerton himself plays his character well, even when he’s written himself as an ineffectual loser. Sadly, Rebecca Hall doesn’t have much to do here—her persona as a brainy sophisticated woman is custom-made to make her one of my favourite actresses, but doesn’t always find appropriate scripts. But the biggest issue against The Gift may also be one of its best assets: a relatively slow forward rhythm that leaves plenty of time for uneasiness, dread and boredom. It’s a finely controlled film, but it’s also a bit long and often underwhelming along the way … even though the conclusion does pack a punch. It will work best with audiences who don’t necessarily expect a thrill a minute, and who enjoy the often uncomfortable situations that it presents.

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