Joel Edgerton made his directorial debut with 2015’s The Gift, a thriller that is very much in the vein of the dramatic thrillers of the 1980s and 1990s (it has shades of the 1992 Kurt Russell/ Ray Liotta thriller Unlawful Entry).
The Gift stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as Simon and Robyn, a successful couple who seemingly have everything. A chance meeting with Simon’s old school friend Gordo (Edgerton) leads to trouble when Gordo becomes overly familiar with the couple.
Joel Edgerton’s film is a tense drama with impressive performances from the three leads. Primarily known for his comedic roles, Bateman shows impressive acting chops as a man whose past comes back to haunt him. Bateman has a lot to do in the role, as the complexity of his character evolves as the film progresses.
As a writer-director Edgerton puts the focus on character and that pays-off when the thriller aspects start to come to the fore. The Gift might be a small-scale thriller but Edgerton has some interesting ideas and he’s able to build the tension until the last act. This is where the film comes into its own as a psychological drama – but it’s also the point where it may lose some of its audience. Those expecting a conventional dramatic ending will be disappointed by the lack of action but Edgerton more than makes up for it with conviction.
It’s interesting to note that The Gift is another film from producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions stable. The company may be best known for its low budget horror films but continues to surprise by also delivering a wide array of fine dramas. The Gift now joins the likes of Whiplash on Blumhouse’s eclectic filmography.
A surprisingy thriller, The Gift plays with audience expectations and delivers plenty of thrills and drama. Joel Edgerton impresses behind the camera and he also offers up a good performance alongside Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. This surprising thriller has a lot of great ideas and it hits the mark on a psychological level.