Direction: Joel Edgerton
Actors: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall
Heralding the emergence of a major new directorial talent, this sweaty palmed psychological thriller from the Australian actor Joel Edgerton has the stylish trappings of Clint Eastwood’s first foray behind the camera, Play Misty For Me (1971). The multi-layered script, penned by Edgerton himself, revolves around an upwardly mobile couple who have recently relocated from Chicago to a glass-walled hilltop home in Los Angeles.
He (Bateman) has landed a new job at a computer security firm while she (Hall) hopes to restart her interior design business from home. The lovebirds are the epitome of a picture-perfect American family.
But wait. A chance encounter with the husband’s former high-school classmate (Edgerton) sends their world into a tailspin. It turns out that the reunion isn’t as fortuitous as it seems, so what if the new old friend constantly leaves expensive gifts at their doorstep. Slowly but surely their fraught relationship leads to an emotionally wrenching comeuppance.
Read: Fantastic Four review
The measured pace allows the viewer to get inside the heads of the three principal characters and understand their increasingly desperate behaviour. The writer-director-star brings just the right amount of demonic glee to the role of the menacing victim. He also elicits beguiling performances from Jason Bateman as the deceptively benign husband and Rebecca Hall as his increasingly distrustful wife. A welcome change from the usual yuck that clogs our multiplexes, The Gift is essential viewing.