Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Gift Review

The weekend has come and gone and in a unique turn of events, I was so busy that I had almost no time to keep up with my blog. For me personally, I considered this a good thing as I was out doing things with people all day instead of sitting at my computer or travelling by myself to a movie theater. However, for any of my readers that were really curious to know my opinions before they headed out to the theaters later in the weekend, I apologize that I wasn't able to be much help. I really hope you took my advice from Thursday and saw Shaun the Sheep Movie. If you were in the mood for a good summer blockbuster, I hope you went and saw Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation or Ant-Man instead of seeing the new Fantastic Four movie. My review on that will be coming soon. I'm also proud of you if you caught the vibe from critics and decided to check out The Gift, because that's the movie I actually saw on Thursday night instead of Fantastic Four. Holy cow, this was an excellent choice. I do realize that thrillers like this aren't for everyone. This movie was very intense throughout much of it. But if you're down for a thriller, this is a dang good one. I've been on a Hitchcock binge recently and thus I feel like I can comfortably say that this felt like a modern day Hitchcock film.

Don't let the title of this movie deceive you. If all you heard was that the movie was called The Gift, you might think this is some happy, feel-good Christian movie. Nope. Gifts are given. Those gifts aren't initially seen as harmful or provocative and thus other gifts are given in exchange, but this is not a happy movie. And it won't give you very many warm fuzzies. Instead it is about a really creepy guy who is made even creepier by the fact that he looks and acts so normal. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play this couple who just moved to California because of Jason Bateman's new job. This guy played by Joel Edgerton is an old high school acquaintance of Jason Bateman and all seems fine and normal at first. They have the typical "I haven't seen you in a long time, what are you up to?" conversation and they invite the guy over for dinner. Nothing bad, right? The problem is that this guy keeps showing up again, and again, and again. Every time he shows up he is extremely nice and usually gives a very thoughtful gift, but you quickly become very weary and things become more and more intense as they go on.

I mentioned the fact that this is very much like a classic Hitchcock thriller. Now that I've said that and you've gotten a description of the movie, you may seem like you have an idea of what's going to happen, especially if I mention that this creepy guy keeps showing up when Rebecca Hall is home alone. But I can almost promise you that what actually happens will be something that you won't see coming at all. At least that was the case with me. Just when I thought I had an idea where the movie is going, it took a huge turn in a direction I didn't expect. And then when I was able to get my bearings straight and get a feel of what actually was happening, it took another huge turn. And it kept doing this. Totally not the movie I expected going in, which was a good part of the reason why I liked the movie. I love being surprised over and over. Especially when the surprise is very rewarding. I'm obviously not going to tell you what this movie is actually about, but when I learned what it was, it was one of those movie moments where my jaw literally dropped. The themes in this movie are very strong and relevant. I could write a whole separate review about all of these themes as they are a majority of the reason why this movie is so great, but I will forgo that aspect of the review so that you can in turn be surprised and blown away when you see this movie.

After watching one of the many Hitchcock films that I've now seen in the last month, I also watched the documentary about the making of that film and in that I learned that Hitchcock had every scene and every shot in that film planned out so meticulously that when he actually got on set, he was sometimes bored because he had already gone through the whole movie in his head. I don't know anything about the making of The Gift, but it also has the feels like every shot is meticulously planned out. The movie itself isn't a fast-moving movie at all. In fact, it's very slow, but it feels like every shot and every scene is there for a specific reason and the movie slowly builds and builds as it goes on. Thus the suspense in the movie is built perfectly, just like in a lot of Hitchcock's films. The individual shots in the movie are very well done. In fact, a lot of the shots are done in a way that you feel like someone is there hiding in the shadows or hiding around a corner. This someone is of course Joel Edgerton's character. It really feels like he is in every scene of the movie watching Rebecca Hall as she goes about her everyday routine and is waiting for the perfect moment to unfold whatever his master plan is.

For all of this, I give a whole lot of kudos to Joel Edgerton. Not just because he was a dang good actor as the creepy individual, but also because this is his directorial debut. He also wrote the movie. So he literally is there in every scene of the movie. He's the writer and director who is the mastermind behind this whole thing telling everyone what to do and how to act and all of that jazz. I've always been impressed with the guy as an actor. He really caught my attention in the movie Warrior. Every time I have seen him since, he is absolutely fantastic. Even in films like last year's Exodus: Gods and Kings that weren't that good, Joel Edgerton did an amazing job. Any bad movie he's been in definitely hasn't been his fault. Knowing that this movie was his directorial debut caused me to have my eye on this for quite some time and I was hoping it would turn out to be good because I was a fan of the guy and I'm so glad it did. I look forward to this man's future and I'm excited to see what he has in store for us next.

Joel Edgerton isn't the only one that I was super impressed with when it came to this movie. Our other two leads were absolutely fantastic. Starting with Rebecca Hall, I honestly didn't know much about this woman. I had to look back on her IMDb page to figure out what she has done in the past and apparently I've seen plenty of movies that she's in, but I guess she's just never stood out enough that her name and face stuck in my head. It has now. She has several moments in this movie where I was like, dang girl! Major props. I loved her character. The other person that receives major props for this movie is Jason Bateman. Him I had heard of. Plenty of times before. The thing is, this guy is a comedian. He's not a serious, drama actor. Yet he is able to pull an incredible performance as this husband in a very serious, intense role. He was so good that I think Jason Bateman deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance. The fact that he's a comedian who doesn't do roles like this makes it even more impressive. I love it when someone can go cross-genre like this, get out of their comfort zone, and blow me out of the water. This is easily the best performance of Jason Bateman's career. In terms of Oscar-worthy performances, I would also say Joel Edgerton and Rebecca Hall are deserving as well. The acting is that good in this movie. But if I could only pick one, it would Jason Bateman.

I've really only scraped the tip of the iceberg with this movie. There's so much more I want to talk about with this movie, but I am holding back because I want all of you to have the same movie-going experience as I had. Recently I've been comparing movies from this year to movies that I loved last year. If I were to continue with that, The Gift would be the equivalent of Gone Girl. No, it's not nearly as bloody or graphic like Gone Girl. No, I didn't have my jaw dropped for the entire second half of the movie like I did with Gone Girl, but both movies are really intense thrillers, so if you liked Gone Girl, then you should really check this one out. And in continuing that comparison, one thing that The Gift has over Gone Girl is that the themes and messages are ones that won't leave you. In fact, the themes are so strong, that the movie overall ends up being more memorable than Gone Girl. Huge props to Joel Edgerton for crafting such a brilliant, suspenseful, smart, and relevant thriller that may be remembered for years to come. At least for yours truly. This once again continues an amazing year in film for 2015 as my grade for The Gift is another 9.5/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment