Oscar nomination maybe? The Gift is the first film of the year that harbors a few truly great performances, specifically one from Jason Bateman who is absolutely haunting in the film. He completely throws himself into the role and plays a character quite unlike anything we’ve seen him play before. It’s a role that could be deemed Oscar-worthy, and it’s the type of performance that could put Bateman on the map as not just “average straight man” that he seems to be constantly typecast as. Hall and Edgerton are also fantastic, with Hall playing a particularly subtle role that almost serves as a guide to the insanity at play here.
Curved paper. The film deals with a lot of really dark material here and the screenplay doesn’t shy away from it. You could almost say that the film is overwritten due to how much the film subverts from your expectations. Once you think the film is going one way- the film does a complete 360. It helps create a really incredible sense of horror and shock once mysteries get discovered and things start to unravel, most of the time in ways we would have never expected.
Perfect directorial debut. The Gift is Joel Edgerton’s first foray into directing and if this film is any indicator of what to expect from his next few films, we are in for a treat. The film is directed with such confidence and precision that it’s hard to believe that it’s coming from a first time director. For the entire runtime, we have a great sense of uneasiness and as the film goes on, we end up getting into some absolutely horrifying and dark subject matter. We never really let go of that sense of stomach-churning madness we get from the beginning of the film.
Gorgeous night scenery. The film is also shot beautifully. Shot completely with digital cameras (makes sense because the film is set mostly at night) we get some gorgeous wide shots and also some really hallucinogenic close ups. The camera never strays away from the horrible things that these characters are doing to each, and it does so in a very beautiful ways.
Conceptually draining. The only fault in this otherwise technically perfect debut is that, like most great thrillers with fantastic twists & turns, it can get pretty exhausting after awhile; and at times also frustrating. By the end of the film, we get really a twisted and satisfying conclusion to this dark story.
Pitch perfect debut. Edgerton’s debut is an impressive one. It’s cut with an almost David Fincher-level of precision and garners some truly horrifying images & ideas. It isn’t afraid to get into the dark suburban themes that are all around us in this modern age and it really gives the audience a lot to think about on the car ride home. That’s what the best thrillers do- make us rethink what is going on in the world around us, and The Gift definitely delivers that in spades.