|'The Gift engages in a lot of mundanity, following a structure which time and again sees Gordo do something pleasant enough but creepily unexpected and Robyn and Simon discuss the happenings with their growing roll call of yuppie pals'|
Joel Edgerton's directing debut, The Gift is an ambiguous Thriller, which never really breaks out from its metronomical structure, something which may have allowed it to be more entertaining.
Introduced moving to Los Angeles from Chicago, power couple Robyn (Rebecca Hall) and Simon (Jason Bateman) soon attract the unwanted attention of Simon's school friend Gordo (Edgerton), who comes bearing an Anton Chigurgh-esque haircut and gifts a-plenty. Gordo's clammy friendship continues to the point at which even Robyn, open in part to his offer of friendship, begins to wonder if his attentions might not be entirely honourable.
Over the course of the film's one-hundred and eight minutes, Edgerton is at pains to point out just how rotten Gordo might be, with events culminating at a creepy dinner party for three at Gordo's house, where nothing seems to quite fit and Simon forces a breaking of ways. To reach that point though, The Gift engages in a lot of mundanity, following a structure which time and again sees Gordo do something pleasant enough but creepily unexpected and Robyn and Simon discuss the happenings with their growing roll call of yuppie pals.
As such, The Gift does have form in the genre of Horror exploring tensions between times and places; whether you refer to part of this as urbanisation, geo-location or something similar. Gordo is a direct link to Simon's past and the Horror generated, in what is still primarily a Thriller, proves reliant on Simon's rejection of and failure to face past events in his spiritual home.
The final third of the film offers both answers and a higher level of operation which hint at what perhaps could have been. Though Gordo is undoubtedly a nuisance throughout the narrative, any hints that there's a wider plot at play are left until the close, where things begin to crash a little too quickly. Gordo's smarts come from a place hitherto unvisited by the film and the late changes leave Robyn looking a little bit too much like a pawn, especially given the good character work she undergoes throughout earlier segments.
It's promising and the final third is satisfying, but the storytelling on show is rarely as sharp as in that segment and The Gift suffers as a result.