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Movie Review

The Gift

MPAA Rating: R for language.

Reviewed by: Tober Corrigan
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Mystery Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
August 7, 2015 (wide)
DVD: October 27, 2015
Copyright, STX Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment Copyright, STX Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, STX Entertainment

sins of the past / coverning them up and denying them

our sin nature / fall of man / none are truly good

“…those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” —Matthew 15:18-19

What is goodness and righteousness?

lying in the Bible

truth

gifts in the Bible

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Joel EdgertonGordo
Jason BatemanSimon
Rebecca HallRobyn
Busy Philipps … Duffy
Katie Aselton … Joan
Allison Tolman … Lucy
David Denman … Greg
Wendell Pierce … Detective Mills
Beau Knapp … Detective Walker
more »
Director: Joel Edgerton
Producer: Blue-Tongue Films
Blumhouse Productions
Distributor: STX Entertainment

“Just because you’re done with the past doesn’t mean the past is done with you.”

What if everything you thought you knew about someone, and what you thought they were capable of, turned out to be wrong? Hardly a new question in the world of movies. Endless are the ways in which films have given us red herrings and unexpected turns, only to reveal some shocking secret about a character’s true intentions or identity. Though, at times, there is fear of this feature directorial debut from Australian actor Joel Edgerton treading all too similar territory, its commitment to the surprises coming from character rather than plot make this a gift for any moviegoer looking for an above-average psychological thriller.

The film introduces us to Simon and Robyn, a young and financially successful couple—played by the committed tandem of Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall—who move into a new home in California. Simon, whose new job is the reason they left their Chicago home, is driven by the desire to work his way up the corporate ladder and be the prize-winning husband. Robyn seems satisfied, on the surface, with her role as a young housewife. Just another seemingly normal American couple living their seemingly normal American lives. But it is the surprise appearance of someone from Simon’s past, Gordo (a haunting and restrained Edgerton), which holds the power to threaten that sense of normalcy and security forever.

I’ll say little more about the plot, for the film’s great strength lies in knowing very little about the surprises the film has in store. As for moviemaking quality, Edgerton chooses to go for restraint and classicism, over blood and gore. Reminiscent of Hitchcock, “The Gift” goes for a slow burn approach to its mysteries and terrors. This should come as a welcome reprieve for those viewers sick and tired of the domestic thriller being reduced to modern day torture porn, such as the “Saw” franchise.

Despite the old-school nature of the filmmaking, the content is anything but. The f-word is used nearly two dozen times, among other foul language. Blood and sex are never shown explicitly, but much violence, sexual and otherwise, is implied throughout the film, getting only more psychologically gruesome as it goes. In the vein of any good psychological thriller, the pain and trauma of the characters easily becomes our own. This film can really hit home, and, for some, this may prove more hindrance than help.

The themes are extremely mature throughout, and the content, though never gratuitous, does reinforce that maturity. This film is not for the faint hearted or for the easily frightened psychologically.

However, if one is willing to sit through spurts of bad language and intense, implied horror, for the sake of a redemptive theme or a film that simply makes you think, then I have very good news. The film often plays around with the notion of justice, of someone getting their due for the evil they have committed in the past and tried to run away from. “The Gift” powerfully states that any life in denial of their sin nature can never really escape themselves. Matthew 15:18 gets a pretty solid hearing in this film, as lies are constantly revealed for the destructive forces they really are.

However, it should be noted that Edgerton never takes a definitive stance on the moral issues. Much of “The Gift” revels in its own ambiguities, perhaps leaving some believers discontent. However, I would suggest to take heart with the fact that, in times where only big explosions and superhero sequels seem to sell at the box office, a film like this can be made that chooses to, in no matter how terrifying a fashion, deal with matters of the human heart. It is both a nail-biting thriller and a wake up call to the ways in which we, in our own lives, try to hide from the shame of our worst sins, or worse yet, the ways in which we train ourselves to forget about them altogether.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy to extreme—“Jesus” (2), “Oh G*d” (2), OMG (2), “My G*d” (1), “God” (1), “G*d-d*mn” (1), “Good Lord” (1), “hell” (3), f-words (24), s-words (15), SOB (2), “a**-hole” (6), “a**” (1), various vulgar slang words for sex and genitals / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Neutral
Neutral—My feelings are mixed with The Gift. Mr. Corrigan’s review is very insightful and to the point in regards to the overall film-making quality. The director, with the exception of a few jumps here and there, spent most of the movie building up suspense and instilling tension in the audience. While the pacing may have seemed sluggish at times, it was necessary and actually quite effective. The twists, which there are several, were incredibly ingenious and added to the overall quality to the film.

Bateman’s performance was fine, but the performance that really intrigued and impressed me was by Joel Edgerton as Gordo. There is some language to contend with and definitely some sexual connotations and scenes involving alcohol. Is this movie for children? Not by any means. As the reviewer mentioned, this movie is very disturbed. Should it be viewed? That’s for you to decide. Personally, it’s one film I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Alexander Malsan, age 25 (USA)
Negative
Negative—(warning: spoilers ahead…) Whenever Hollywood promotes a movie about a married couple with a third person lurking in the background, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that 99.9% of the time, some form of Adultery is part of the plot, guaranteed. I didn’t even need to see this movie to figure it out. I took one look at the movie poster then read a few of the comments in the forum on IMDB, and BAM! There it is. The Husband gets emasculated and left to wonder who the biological father of his child is, gee, never saw that coming.

Look people, no matter how mysterious the movie appears, no matter how many jumps and scares take place, the goal of most Hollywood movies about married couples is clear, write a script that contains the husband or wife sleeping with someone else, pass it off as entertainment, plant the seeds of Adultery and contribute to the breakdown of the traditional family… simple.

If you find joy in this type of filth, to each his own, but I would gently encourage you to use the gift of discernment that God gave you, avoid these types of movies and use your money to help pay your tithes and help advance the Kingdom of God instead, God bless.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality:
—Kevin Burns, age 51 (USA)
Positive—I was astonished when I read the comments from a previous reviewer (who did NOT see the movie at all.) This movie has nothing to do with adultery or anything of the kind! What the review is likely basing his impression… (SPOILER ALERT) is a possible sexual assault used as a tool of revenge. The wife in this movie is a very kind and compassionate person. She feels pity and empathy for “Gordo” and gradual horror finding out secrets of her husband who shatter her belief in him as a good person. This is a good psychological thriller. The kind I wish was made more often—good acting, no gratuitous violence or nudity. The language was rough, but appropriate for Simon. Revenge is horrible, however, in a way, this movie can be seen as a morality tale. Bullying and lying can catch up with us in the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Deb, age 52 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I went to see this film with my wife, expecting a good suspense thriller and instead was ambushed with a liberal cause film that was laced with unnecessary foul language. The acting was good, as can be expected from Jason Bateman. I was unfamiliar with the rest of the cast, but everyone did a very good job in their respective role.

What I was disappointed with was the fact that the film advertised itself as a creepy suspense thriller and devolved into a moralistic agenda film. At one point, Batman’s character enters into a F-bomb laced tirade against his wife, and my wife and I decided to leave the theater.

I gave a lower rating on filmmaking quality due to the use of the dream sequences which created a false suspense. Though it was germane to the mental state of the female lead, it seems that this technique has been overused in film in general, and it is a personal pet peeve.

Given the film had an R rating, I should not have been surprised by the foul language, but the repetitiousness and intensity was quite off setting. I do not begrudge filmmakers from making films on issues important to them, but I do take issue with being misled by a trailer. I would not recommend this film for any believer, as it is crude and foul language laden.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Paul Ahnert, age 47 (USA)
Movie Critics

…A sly, effective throwback to '90s stalker thrillers. …hitting its genre marks in brisk, unfussy fashion and raising a few hairs on the back of your neck along the way…
—Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter

…“The Gift” takes a masterful thrill ride into the unexpected… something more unique and unexpected than its marketing campaign might imply. …
—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

…Nothing vain about this project… The greatest chills come, not from a loud or unexpected noise, but rather when the film shows you something you’ve already seen and slyly insinuates: Something is different now; do you see what it is?… [3½/4]
—Chris Knight, National Post

…an excellent suspense thriller with a moral message, but ultimately evil still wins out in the end and there’s lots of strong foul language requiring extreme caution…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…spine-tingling thriller… “The Gift” doesn't flinch from featuring immorality, yet delivers a moral message: that if you deceive and bully, there will eventually be furious fall-out and clear consequences. …
—Adam R. Holz, Plugged In

…Convincing creeper film gives slowly, keeping the audience guessing …[3/4]
—Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

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