The trailer for THE GIFT makes you think it’s a horror film or a slasher movie. That’s false advertising, because THE GIFT is actually a smart, well acted psychological thriller that will keep surprising you right up to the end. Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and stars in this smart drama.
Jason Bateman is terrific as Simon, a sales executive who recently moved to L.A. with his wife, Robyn, played by Rebecca Hall. By chance they meet Gordon, a former high school classmate of Simon’s, played by Edgerton.
Gordon: Excuse me. Is your name Simon?
Gordon: It is you.
Gordon: We went to school together.
Simon: This is my wife, Robin. This is…I didn’t get your name.
Gordon: Gordon Mosley. Gordo.
Simon: Gordo? Oh my God. I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize you. It’s been a very, very long time.
Soon after this encounter, Gordon leaves a bottle of wine on the couple’s doorstep.
Simon (reading a note that came with the wine): Welcome home! (smiley face), Gordo.
Robyn: How did he get our address?
Simon: I have no idea.
But Robyn decides they should invite Gordon to dinner, and that’s when things start to get a little strange.
Gordon (to Robyn): Did you know that Simon was class president?
Robyn: Yeah, I did, Mr. President.
Gordon: He had a very organized campaign, “Simon Says,” like the children’s game. Only his campaign was based around the game, so “Simon says” and it would happen. Simon says more time for sports. Simon says more choice in the cafeteria.
And Gordon figures that it’s the same for Simon twenty years later.
Gordon: Simon says, “new job.” Right. Simon says “beautiful wife and a new home.” (snaps his fingers) See. Should have no problem starting a family cause Simon says….I’ve had one too many wines. And I just talk way too much.
Both Robin and Simon reassure him, it’s OK, but after he leaves…
Simon: That guy’s odd.
Robin: He’s a little socially awkward, but I can be like that.
Gordon continues to drop by unannounced and to leave gifts and notes for the couple which annoys Simon, but doesn’t bother Robin.
Simon: They used to call him Gordo the Weirdo. He’s delusional, thinks that we’re friends.
Robin: I think he’s nice and he’s been very generous.
Finally, Simon tells Gordon not to visit them anymore which results in yet another note.
Simon: (reading from note): After all these years, I was willing to let bygones be bygones.
Robin: What does that mean?
Simon: I do not know….
Robin: But it must mean something….bygones be bygones after all these years?
Clearly, something’s amiss, but what is it? Is Gordon a threat to their safety? Why won’t Simon explain to his wife what happened between him and Gordon twenty something years earlier?
The filmmaker keeps us guessing. But one thing is certain: no matter how much Simon wants to be finished with the past, the past is not done with him.
There are some scary moments in THE GIFT, but the real surprise is what the characters discover about themselves and each other.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.