The Gift
 
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The Gift

There’s a movie lover’s gift at the heart of Joel Edgerton’s terrifically entertaining thriller. Because this chilly chiller has a lot more on its mind than only getting you to jump out of your seat.

Beginning as an almost familiar yuppie in peril story, we meet Simon and Robyn as they are checking out a perfect mid century glass house, coming home to start over after a difficult few years in Chicago. They’re adorable and we want them to feel good, do well and start that family they both so desire. Things begin to go weird pretty early, when the couple bumps into an old high school classmate of Simon’s. Gordo seems like a sweet loser. Robyn is more sympathetic to him than is her husband, who believes Gordon’s just trying to get into her ohso slim pants. But maybe there’s more to Simon’s suspicions than that.

Edgerton, who wrote, produced and directed, as well as co-stars, takes us on quite a ride. Just when you think you know where we’re going, we’re not. And, while he makes sure we’re thoroughly entertained (when was the last time you watched a movie where the entire audience screamed in unison only to collapse into hysterical giggles immediately afterward?), he also sweetens the pot with a true moral punch to the gut, making this almost a classic drama that thrills rather than a traditional goose bumpy revenge flick.

None of this would have been as affecting as it is were it not for the rip roaring work from the three lead actors.  Jason Bateman gives a whale of a performance and Edgerton nails the mysterious Gordon but it’s the almost enigmatic performance of Rebecca Hall that keeps us emotionally hooked. The camera loves her, of course, but Hall’s shaky stability is key to the success of this remarkably layered film that’s the best surprise of the summer movie season.

 

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