Grudges that just won’t stay buried come surging to the surface in The Gift, a nerve-shredding psychological thriller from Joel Edgerton, who writes, produces and stars in his superbly sinister directorial debut. Also boasting a typically assured performance from Rebecca Hall and allowing Arrested Development‘s Jason Bateman making a convincing transition from comedy, it’s a bold, uncomfortable thriller that sees everyone bringing their A-game to devastating effect.
Married couple Simon and Robyn (Bateman and Hall) relocate to Simon’s hometown when he takes on a job opportunity. As they settle in to their new surroundings, an innocuous shopping trip sees them run into Gordo (Edgerton), who remembers Simon from school. Simon seems on edge, and after a brief exchange, they head home. It’s here that he tells Robyn about how Gordo – or “Gordo the Weirdo”, as he was known, never quite fit in at school. Robyn evidently thinks he’s being a little hard on him, but when he starts showing up to their house unannounced bringing both gifts and hospitality that feels just a little overbearing, The Gift starts asking real questions about the past and the present.
This is a remarkably assured first feature from Edgerton. Smartly-paced with a script that constantly toys with your allegiances, the secrets from all sides that are teased out as the story unfolds are gripping, organic and unexpected, and its final twist is unexpected and shattering. Essential viewing.