The Gift

The best movies make you think about yourself and about life. I enjoy movies that explore some of my personal beliefs and philosophies. For me, what matters most in life is how you treat other people. You can be as wealthy and successful as possible, but if you don’t treat your fellow man with courtesy and respect, your worldly trappings mean nothing. The Gift was an intriguing movie that explored what it means to be a “good person,” and the accountability we must have for our actions.

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses 2) and Rebecca Hall (Transcendence) star as Simon and Robyn, a thirty-something couple who have recently relocated to California from Chicago. Simon is a successful executive, while Robyn is between jobs. Grieving a recent miscarriage, the couple is looking for a fresh start not far from where Simon grew up. We are introduced to the accomplished couple as they purchase a beautiful new home, and their energy is joyful and expectant. While shopping for furniture, Simon bumps into an old friend from high school, a shy man named Gordon (Joel Edgerton, Exodus: Gods and Kings). We first notice him in the background through the store’s window, watching Simon and Robyn as they shop. He exudes a creepy awkwardness, and it was painful watching him strike up a conversation with Simon, who barely remembers him.

As Simon and Robyn settle into their new digs, “Gordo” (as Simon calls him) begins to subtly intrude into their lives. It starts innocently enough with a housewarming gift left on their doorstep but eventually escalates to unannounced visits and inappropriate gifts. He seems lonely and relatively harmless, but there is something unsettling about his quiet lurking. Robyn is compassionate towards Gordo, but Simon is unnerved by him and mockingly pokes fun at his social ineptitude. It was particularly troublesome that Gordo always seemed to pop up when Robyn was home alone and Simon was working, a detail that foreshadowed the film’s sinister twist.

The film succeeds in evoking sympathy for Gordo, despite his disturbing behavior. There’s sadness in him, a quiet loneliness he hoped to fill by reconnecting with someone from his past. As the film unfolds, we learn just what kind of person Simon was all those years ago when he and Gordo first knew each other. Robyn discovers that Simon isn’t quite the man she married, as he reveals that he hasn’t changed much since high school after all. We don’t know how far Gordo will go to right the wrongs Simon inflicted on him, but when he exacts his revenge it is a cruel masterstroke.

I enjoyed The Gift immensely. It was a quiet movie that arrived in theaters with little fanfare, but deserved more attention than it received. Suspenseful and thought provoking, it was a unique movie that held my interest throughout. Edgerton not only stars as Gordo, but he wrote and directed the film as well. It was an impressive effort and I appreciated the conflicting emotions Gordo inspired. The storyline was strong and original, a testament to Edgerton’s talent and versatility. Hall and Bateman gave emotionally charged performances, and it was good to see Bateman as a flawed character for a change. Make sure you check for this movie when it comes to Redbox and cable. Grade: A

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