Simon and Robyn are a young married couple whose life is going just as planned until a chance encounter with an acquaintance from Simon's high school sends their world into a harrowing tailspin. Simon doesn't recognize Gordo at first, but after a series of uninvited encounters and mysterious gifts prove troubling, a horrifying secret from the past is uncovered after more than 20 years. As Robyn learns the unsettling truth about what happened between Simon and Gordo, she starts to question: how well do we really know the people closest to us, and are past bygones ever really bygones? Written by
Keep in the Dark
Written by James Edward Bagshaw, Thomas Edward Walmsley, Samuel Toms, and Adam Thomas Smith
Performed by Temples
Courtesy of Fat Possum Records
By arrangement with Zync Music Group LLC See more »
Billed as a mystery and a thriller, Joel Edgerton's The Gift is indeed both of those and more. The sub genre might be "home invasion" of a figurative and a real kind, reminiscent of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Equally so it's a home horror film, for some of the traditional tropes of that genre are in place (e.g., missing dog, running faucet) waiting around the corner of any room so to speak.
Super security salesman Simon (Jason Bateman) is happily married to interior designer Robyn (Rebecca Hall). Their new LA home is wall to wall windows, all the better for bad forces to look in and to ironically comment on the lack of transparency inside the home as well as a security expert's vulnerability. Then Simon's old high school friend, weirdo Gordo (Joel Edgerton), visits with gifts and memories of a troubled past.
Their home is indeed invaded, not just by nerdy, strange Gordo, who has a bad habit of showing up at odd times and gaining access at even odder ones, but by the past, which is creeping up on the couple despite Simon's will to leave it all behind and Gordo's to "let bygones be bygones." The film bears its tensions well, distributing its exposition of the past in the present slowly.
The Gift doesn't just give the present a chance to come to terms with the past; it also comments on privacy, security, and bullying while serving up a fine stew of ironies and suspense. As for bullying, not the first time in a thriller, it plays out from high school days to adult days in a surprisingly subtle way, forcing us over the long haul of the film's 108 minutes to see it lurking like a clichéd ghost or murderer.
Marriage is also a subject in this taut film, namely how much do we really know about our partners or anyone close to us? This film could make anyone a skeptic about the goodness of your fellow travelers. Speaking of which, Gordo is the outsider, whom writer Flannery O'Connor liked to write about because "he changes things." Gordo is an agent of change, an avenging angel of the past and a messenger for the future.
Smart thriller for late summer.
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