Movie date: The Gift (NC16)
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall
Director: Joel Edgerton
The Skinny: Gordo the weirdo (Edgerton) becomes super clingy when his old classmate Simon (Bateman) moves to Los Angeles. Not only does he keep dropping gifts off at the latter’s swanky California mansion unannounced, he gets a little too close to Simon’s wife Robyn (Hall).
Hard to believe this was written and directed by an actor.
It seems too smart for a pretty boy like Edgerton to have concocted.
He played Ramses in Exodus: Gods And Kings and Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.
Fortunately, the Australian seems to be an exception.
What I particularly like about The Gift is its focus.
Every piece interlocks with every other piece.
Every shot, scene and sequence has a purpose.
It's a plot-driven story, and yet the story seems to emerge organically from the histories and personalities of the characters.
It has the feel of a minor film from a major director, like something Hitchcock or Scorsese might slap together for giggles.
Edgerton must also be given credit for taking on such an unglamorous role.
Maybe when you're a glamorous guy, it's fun to ugly up and play a sad sack.
I particularly loved his wardrobe and make-up choices for the character.
He's like a strange guy trying to disguise himself as a normal guy.
His face is bland and beige, making his goatee and earring seem strange and sinister.
His shirts are everyday shirts, but in drama colours like red and black.
He's very neat - too neat! - but nothing seems to really match or fit properly.
This is just a great piece of film-making from top to bottom.
- JASON JOHNSON
The Gift may give you nightmares about monkey plush toys.
It's a slow-burning psychological thriller involving deep dark secrets, dead fish and yeah, toy monkeys.
While watching it, I was constantly reminded why you should never pretend to be friends with someone you can't actually stand.
Especially when they insist on giving you posh stuff.
As geeky physicist Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory says: "You haven't given me a gift, you've given me an obligation!"
The actors do a stellar job of playing an uncomfortable threesome heading for a messy break-up.
I've always loved Bateman in the TV series Arrested Development, but here he plays the everyman-with-a-secret with a creepiness I didn't know he had.
It's Edgerton who steals the show with Gordo's increasingly stalker-ish overtures.
I could also relate to Hall's lonely housewife character, who is both the movie's moral anchor and its vehicle for revenge.
She's not just the woman caught in between, but someone who quickly learns not to be naive.
With beautifully shot scenes and subtle, surprising storytelling, The Gift is not your standard thriller.
What appears to be a simple tale about reluctant friendships and hero worship evolves into a maze of deception, broken loyalties and pathological lies.
- LISA TWANG
THE CONSENSUS: Guys and girls alike will receive plenty from this strange yet seductive offering