The Gift (2015)
There are three different groups to determine whether or not the successful; accountants, critics and cinephiles. When a movie brings in box office numbers greatly exceed the films budget, the accountants are happy. If the movie has stylistic panache a sense of technical expertise than the critics will provide a glowing review. That leaves the fans whose criteria is simple, comes down to answering one question"," was the film entertaining, did I have fun?" Inventively it is not that often that all three factions will agree, particularly strongly. However, at this point in time is relatively easy to find a movie that has risen to the top of all three methods of evaluations; ‘The Gift’. It is a mélange of a number of genres which is not done correctly can result in a movie that is unable to connect with the unique perspective and provide a strong narrative. In the case of this film it not only defies or indicators that generally point to failure to perform incredible feat creatively combining these categories of storytelling into something that strongly transcends the mundane to become one of the best films of the year. So many lifelong aficionados of movies have become jaded with regard to the promises made in teaser trailers and posters. I admittedly approach this movie with trepidation of the same claims were made in the press release I received I saw so many of the same claims made them and I read that the filmmaker, Joel Edgerton, is making his feature-length film premiere as both director and screenwriter experience has indicated that the film may show potential but there is little chance of much success. As I begun watching and found myself drawn into the story I came to the inescapable conclusion that I was in the presence of something quite special.
Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn Callum (Rebecca Hall) of a young married couple or far removed from the favorite movie archetype of the struggling young couple. We first see them a real estate agent is showing them a new house obviously designed by a master architect with modernistic clean lines and ample open space. There is no hiding the fact that they are quite in love and that Simon was doing very well in his career. In fact, it was a significant promotion that necessitated the move from Chicago to Los Angeles. One day while shopping in a home goods store they run into a man who claims to know Simon, who introduced himself as a former high school classmate of Simon. Although Gordo seems to be amply familiar with that time the life, Simon completely unable to place his long-lost ‘friend’. After completing the transaction with the sales girl Simon and Robyn leave the home would Simon still perplexed but generally unconcerned about the encounter.
Gordo begins dropping in unannounced which raises the unanswered question of how he knew their address. From the perspective of the audience we try to dismiss it as perhaps he overheard the address being given along with the delivery instructions of the store. Gordo’s behavior becomes increasingly intrusive and one day with both of them out of the house and upon their return define the previously empty Koi pond filled with water now home to a group of very expensive fish. Gordo appears to be genuinely friendly but Simon cannot shake an uneasy feeling especially when he fondly remembers Gordo is being taunted in high school as "Gordon the weirdo." The next time Gordo shows up Robyn invites them in for the grant of their home. There is an obvious look of sadness that comes over Robyn when he reached the room that was supposed to have been made into a nursery; she miscarried and lost the child back in Chicago. Gordo invite Simon Robin to his home for dinner, mentioning that another couple will be there as well. Once they get there Gordo informs them that the other couple had to cancel of the last-minute. Making the situation even more uncomfortable Gordo receives a phone call requiring miniature leave on a work matter. Using the opportunity of being alone in the house they decide to do a little snooping upstairs among the items they could find dresses suitable for woman, and a room full of children’s things. Upon Gordo’s return Simon confronts him with this information pushes Gordo to a highly defensive situation. Upset, Gordo confesses the phone call from his wife and that she divorced him taking the kids from him. Simon confronts Gordo with all the laws informing him that any friendship they might’ve had is now definitively over.
The next day things begin to get dark as Robyn comes home from a run to find the Koi fish all dead and their dog missing. Robyn drives to the home only to be greeted at the door by a woman they’ve never seen before two informs him that she knows and know Gordo definitely does not live there. The go to the police but the authorities are reticent to become involved in expressed concern that their involvement might tip Gordo off inciting further, more drastic action. Over the next few days Robin has the uneasy feeling that would Simon is going to work she is not alone in the house. At this point you might be thinking to yourself that you have seen this scenario played out so many times so many different films. You are sure the corner with some demented stalker from high school now has the opportunity to extract revenge she’s been planning for so very long. Without giving anything away, don’t get to use that theory.
For a filmmaker previously accustomed to working with short movies, Mr. Edgerton demonstrates an exceptionally well-seasoned in both the crafting of the script and his strong directorial style. I find that in all fairness I cannot make any further comments about what happens between these three people whose lives have into the strange mutual orbit. Superficially the story seems to be bits and pieces of different elements lifted from every psychological thriller you have ever watched. Just keep something in mind when this thought occurs to you. Consider going to a restaurant that is featuring the work of a new chef. You sit and taste his signature dish and are able to discern a number of very familiar ingredients. That no way deterred from enjoying the novel fashion in which this young chef has combined them. You may be able to identify the standard ingredients but this synergy that created by the juxtaposition brings out nuances to turn this meal to something unique and marvelously prepared with talent expertise and most important of all an obvious love telling his stories for the artistic medium of cinema. Mr. Edgerton is most certainly one of his generation’s most promising auteurs. I’m greatly looking forward to watching houses intrinsically formidable talents are homed by his future work. Found myself mesmerized by what I was experiencing on the screen. As the end credits came rolling by I felt myself filled with anticipation of watching his continuing career.