The Gift (2015)
Starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Joel Edgerton
Directed by Joel Edgerton
Married couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) have recently moved to Simon's old hometown for his new job. While shopping for furniture for their new home, Simon runs into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an old classmate of Simon's whom Robyn invites over for dinner. Gordo is slightly off kilter in terms of having an odd personality that doesn't sit so well with Simon who becomes particularly distressed when Gordo brings a variety of gifts to them on multiple occasions seemingly in an attempt to simply hang out. Simon ends up telling Gordo to essentially take a hike which doesn't sit so well with the former classmate who may have a reason to seek revenge on Simon for things from the past.
As mentioned, writer-director Edgerton does a nice job of building ever-increasing tension thanks to the various layers he peels back on the lives of Simon, Robyn, and Gordo. With a film that is essentially a three-person dialog-driven piece (albeit with slow burn directorial flourishes thrown in thanks to the genre on display), Edgerton impressively weaves his story with the appropriate levels of dread and tautness. Rebecca Hall and Edgerton himself come off the best with Bateman also solid. The latter suffers a bit from the fact that he's playing a role we've seen him play before in that Simon is a bit of a slimy guy and while Bateman can play slimy guys well, it's seemingly de rigueur for him. Still, all three actors play well off one another and help to create the necessary character twists and turns seem believable.
All these positives being said, however, The Gift misses the mark a bit in that it overstays its welcome a little too long. I understand the slow burn mentality Edgerton was bringing to the party here, but there are a few scenes at the beginning and during the middle that I couldn't help but feel could've been trimmed without detriment to the overall storyline. There's also a character issue that's been gnawing at me in the past few days that I can't quite get over. Maybe I missed something in the story, but this particular "trait" is a bit to spoiler-y to reveal here -- I'll throw it into the comments if I remember but it has to do with things in Simon's past that are brought to life that strike me as a bit inconsistent with the story The Gift is trying to tell. Still, Edgerton proves to be a deft director here and the film itself is a solid thriller.
The RyMickey Rating: B