Joel Edgerton is not a completely anonymous actor, but not a big star either. We know his face from a few supporting roles in a number of movies, but none of them really made it to the Academy Awards. This makes even more remarkable the fact that with The Gift he is completely in control. The resulting movie is packaged as a psychological thriller set in that part of California populated with apparently happy couples or families enjoying the good life ensured by their success of their corporate careers. Yet, not everybody succeeded as well, and happy facades can hide unhappy relations and dark secrets surfacing from the past.





A game is played during all this film between the director-script author and the viewers. It starts like a yuppies-go-to-California film, and a seemingly incidental encounter between the successful Simon (played by ) and a former school colleague called Gordo () who does not seem to have done that well. A feeling of un-easiness starts to install in a very subtle manner. It’s not only what happens on screen (although the visits and the small gifts and favors made to Simon and to his attractive but fragile wife Robyn () start to look more and more like stalking, but also the simple dialogs of the couples seem to indicate that not all is pink and bright in paradise. As the story continues we start to discover more details about the past, the angle and judgment on the characters changes, and the feeling of uneasiness increases. To put it in one of the words used by Simon to describe his ex-colleague – weirdo!


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Actors directors are said not to be too successful in directing themselves, but Joel Edgerton is the exception. He is actually the best designed character in a triangle in which all three actors play crisply defined characters, which succeed to be true even as the perspective and the judgment of the viewers about them changes. Hitchcock is the obvious source of inspiration for the movies in this genre, and if Rebecca Hall was a blonde she would have made a perfect Hitchcockian character (Edgerton cannot even avoid filming not one but two shower scenes).

There is not much violence on screen, certainly not on the scale of the 2015 violence in movies, but the feeling of terror is present almost all the time, and its remarkable that it results from psychology rather than from effects. The ending is somehow disappointing in its making, but it includes enough dose of macabre and weirdness and it’s open enough to let us wonder what really happened. ‘The Gift’ is not easy or pleasant viewing, but it gives enough reasons of satisfaction to be worth spending the time with it.