The Gift | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Gift 

A slow-burn domestic thriller that warns against opening up aspects of the past

click to enlarge Just looking: Joel Edgerton
  • Just looking: Joel Edgerton

If you need a chill for the late summer heat, you could do worse than investigating The Gift. Written and directed by Joel Edgerton, it’s a domestic thriller, with a deliciously slow build that gradually reveals … well, see for yourself.

Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robin (Rebecca Hall) move to Los Angeles, and while shopping, they run into Gordo (Edgerton), a high school acquaintance of Simon’s. Gordo drops by with a housewarming gift, and initiates a relationship. Robin feels sorry for the socially awkward Gordo, while alpha male Simon dismisses him by his old nickname, “Gordo the Weirdo.” Things grow strained, then ugly.

The Gift dabbles in the tropes of domestic horror — disappearing pet, running faucet, huge windows that people suddenly pop up behind — but it’s more interested in the psychological. Specifically, those interpersonal and emotional issues that have been left unresolved, hidden away in people like a dormant virus that can suddenly erupt and spread infection. (“Let bygones be bygones,” one character suggests. As if.)

The Gift is smart about what’s best left hidden and the fluid nature of privacy: Simon works in systems security but lives in a glass house; secrets, kept or revealed, are the currency of power; and some gifts are best left on the doorstep.



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