Saturday, October 10, 2015

Joel Edgerton Displays His Versatility in ‘The Gift’

Not only does Joel Edgerton star in The Gift, but he also wrote its script, serves as co-producer, and makes his directorial debut on it.  And I’m impressed.  Not because he made several contributions to this movie at once, but because he did them quite so well.  This movie is not one of those bland, sloppy, pretentious, and self-serving passion projects that some Hollywood stars dabble on.  The Gift is a genuinely well-made and competent film.  With this, Edgerton has effectively shown us that he’s more than a great actor (I particularly loved his performance in 2011’s Warrior), that he also has what it takes to excel in other aspects of filmmaking.  The man is truly talented.

The Gift is about a seemingly blissful, picture-perfect married couple, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall), who one day unexpectedly run into Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an old schoolmate of Simon’s, whom he doesn’t recognize at first.  But after that initial meeting, Gordo begins showing up uninvited at the couple’s house and leaving them gifts.  These awkward encounters lead to the revelation of a dark past that will shake Simon and Robyn’s lives.

This movie is probably the best psychological thriller of the year.  Edgerton’s steady direction, collaborating with the lead actors’ compelling acting (I was particularly surprised on how good Jason Bateman is, considering his reputation as a moderately-talented comedian), superbly does a fine job in peeling the layers of the plot while building and maintaining tension.  The unsettling narrative (thanks to Edgerton’s subversive script) will continually keep its audience thinking and then side-steps whenever the audience believes to know where the story is going.

The Gift is a smart, suspenseful movie with a ponder-worthy message.  And by surprisingly crafting something as good as this, I have this newly amplified amount of interest in Edgerton’s future ventures in either side of the camera.

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