THE GIFT (2015)

How we treat people and our relationships with them are critical to our social development.  When we are kids, we don’t understand that how we behave can sometimes stay with us.  Even into adulthood.

While it is an indirect examination that is explored in Joel Edgerton’s producer – directorial debut, the question of “do we really know ourselves and our partners as well as we should” comes up.  Frequently.

In “The Gift,” Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are newly moved to Los Angeles from Chicago, looking for a fresh start.  As they’re starting to outfit a newly purchased mid-century home, they run into Gordo (Edgerton).  Simon doesn’t immediately remember Gordo, but makes the connection when their high school is mentioned.  Following an initial gift, Robyn invites him into their home for dinner.  So unnerved by Robyn’s reaction to Gordo and the continuous gifts, Simon takes matters into his own hands.  However, Robyn suspects that something else is wrong.

Edgerton’s story, while formulaic, is buoyed by the excellent cast. His execution on both sides of the camera is strong.  While the devil is in the details, there seemed to be some pacing issues, stretching the 108 minute running time.

As the distrust builds, so does the tension and Luke Doolan’s editing shines. Eduard Grau’s cinematography captures the essence of the home and the family with cooler shades of color, adding to the mystique of the story.  Further reflecting the suspense is the wonderfully melodic and percussive score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.

Akin to 1987’s “Fatal Attraction,” this suspense-thriller succeeds on so many levels, and reminds us that gifts come in all sizes, both good and bad.

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