The Gift is an Effective but Flawed Psychological Thriller

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The Gift is an effective thriller that suffers from a flawed ending. Joel Edgerton’s film stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as a seemingly happy couple starting a new chapter of their lives. Simon (Jason Bateman) becomes reacquainted with an old school chum named Gordo (played by Edgerton himself). It becomes clear that these two men share a sinister history and the nature of this history is the mystery of the film. (Spoilers lie ahead).

As the movie progresses, Simon’s real character is revealed and it is not pretty. Simon was a bully in the past and does not seem to be much better in the present. He manipulates his wife and ruins a co-worker’s career to get a promotion. He’s a rude dude who resorts to childish tactics such as name-calling and physical violence. It’s thrilling to slowly learn the extent of Simon’s wickedness. Edgerton is skilled at revealing just enough satisfying clues while keeping the audience guessing what will come next. The Gift has as much narrative tension as any film this year and that is reason enough to recommend it.

Here’s the thing, the movie concludes on a note that left me scratching my head. In the end, the film settles on being a revenge narrative, similar to a film like Oldboy. We find out that Gordo has filmed himself sneaking into Simon’s home wearing a monkey mask, while Robyn is passed out. This raises the question of whether or not Gordo has rapes Robyn. This behavior departs sharply from the actions previously taken by Gordo and its definitely a bummer ending. While I wanted to see Simon get his comeuppance, it’s hard to wish this kind of trauma on anyone, even an abusive bully. It’s a remarkably black ending for a film that travels through so many shades of grey. I recommend The gift because it will entertain but please be aware that most will leave with a sour taste in their mouth.

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