Directed by Joel Edgerton and released in 2015, the film follows the lives of newly married couple Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn Callum (Rebecca Hall). The film starts off with a relatively mundane plot line, featuring the couple moving into a neighbourhood familiar from Simon’s childhood. The couple, while shopping, meets Gordon “Gordo” Mosley (Joel Edgerton), an old high school classmate of Simon’s.
After having dinner with Gordo at their new home, the Callums seem divided with their reception of Gordo’s presence. Robyn, the innocent and ignorant housewife, acknowledges Gordo’s strangeness but genuinely feels that he is a good guy. Simon, who throughout the whole dinner seemed uncomfortable as Gordo dug up forgotten tales of their high school days, belittles Gordo as much as he can to his wife after Gordo leaves.
Gordo drops off a series of gifts at the Callum’s residence, ultimately endearing himself to Robyn who truly believes that he’s a good guy. He buys them gifts, which includes koi for their pond, only for the koi to be found dead a couple of weeks later. Bojangles, the couple’s dog, mysteriously disappears after Simon confronts Gordo and physically assaults him in an attempt to stop disturbing the peace in his home. Amidst all this, Robyn has fallen pregnant (she’s had trouble conceiving in the past, so this pregnancy comes as a shocker to her). Her pregnancy adds more melodrama to the already darkening plot.
Caught up in a web of revenge and hatred, Simon’s inability to be contrite for his past wrongdoings and Gordo’s persistent attempts to rekindle a past relationship that is better kept buried, leads the pair to end up questionably worse off in the end, than when the movie started. The ultimate scapegoat in the movie reveals itself to be Robyn, who is completely ignorant of the sinister secrets floating around her, and it is she that suffers the unmitigated effects of Simon and Gordo’s rivalry.
The Gift is special in the sense that it starts of with clear expectations for the viewer: Simon is a personable character that the audience immediately identifies with. He’s successful and smart, and he seems to be the kind of guy that you’d want to have a beer with over the weekend. Gordo, by comparison, is socially inept, and crass – not exactly someone who you picture enjoying a stimulating conversation with.
However, as the film rolls along, a series of events will cause the audience to question their preconceived notions of each character, leading to a surprising twist. Oddly enough, the film seems to have no clear hero, since both Simon and Gordo seem better suited the role of the antihero.
The Gift, similar to the themes of The Prestige, leads one to arrive at certain questions. What lengths must one go through to exact revenge? Is exacting revenge, and deriving what little gratification that revenge offers, worth the ruin of many lives in the process?