Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Gift


The problem with reviewing some thrillers is that you can’t say much about them without revealing things that would be better left as surprises. This is one of those. It leads you down a certain path, never cheating at all, and then turns your head around. The plot, briefly, concerns a thirty-something couple who move from Chicago into a to-die-for house in the Hollywood Hills. Couple million bucks, easy. It is largely glass, which just goes to show you that a scary movie doesn’t need a spooky old house for creepy events to happen. They encounter Gordo, an old high school acquaintance of the husband, Simon. Simon barely remembers him. Gordo seems very needy, and begins pushing himself on Simon and his wife, Robyn, to the point that they are getting uncomfortable with it. He doesn’t do anything bad at all, it’s just that he is a little bit too helpful, and he is socially awkward. Then their dog disappears …

Things start to go in a different direction than the last seven hundred films you have seen about stalkers. You expect the dog to be delivered to the front porch, eviscerated, just like in the last eight hundred films like this that you have seen. But that doesn’t happen. This movie fools you again and again. We liked it. It stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as the couple, and both are quite good. The part of Gordo is acted by Joel Edgerton, and the film was written, produced, and directed by him. It is his first film as director. Previously he has been in many films, usually in supporting roles, but got a lot of notice for his work as the rather simple man, Richard Loving, who married a black woman in 1958 when it was illegal in sixteen states, including Virginia, where they were arrested for the “crime” of miscegenation. Their case eventually resulted in a unanimous Supreme Court decision that such laws were unconstitutional. (Still doesn’t make up for Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, but at least it was something.) He is very good here, too, and what amazes me yet again is that as neither Loving nor Gordo does he betray the slightest hint that he is Australian. Thus he joins a long line of Aussies who have made it big in America by losing their lovely accents. In a supporting role, with far too little to do, is Allison Tolman, who was so fabulous in the first season of Fargo. There really aren’t a lot of parts in Hollywood for large women, if you’re not Melissa McCarthy.