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The Gift (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 105 minutes.

Not for children.

If writer, director, co-star Joel Edgerton doesn’t get multiple Oscar® nominations for this, something’s wrong. This is the best crafted thriller I’ve seen in years, highlighted by terrific performances by Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Edgerton. But as good as the performances are the cinematography (Edward Grau) and music (Danny Bensi and Saunder Juriaans), both of which are top flight and keep the tension mounting.

This is such a fine psychological thriller that there are several scenes that make you jump out of your skin. While scenes of Hall walking through the house looking for what has caused a noise could easily have been hackneyed, they are so well done, the cinematography so perfect, that they had my skin crawling. There’s even a fine homage to one of Hitchcock’s most famous scenes.

When Rebecca Hall appeared in Woody Allen’s Vicki Cristina Barcelona (2008), she was overshadowed by sexpots Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, but I wrote “The acting is exceptionally good by everyone, but especially Hall and Bardem, for whom I would give Oscar® nominations.” She didn’t get one, but she did receive Golden Globe, BAFTA and other nominations. Here she deserves an Oscar® nomination again.

Hall and Bateman are a married couple who move from Chicago into a new house in Los Angeles. They encounter Edgerton, a man from Bateman’s past who insinuates himself on them. Things progress from there in strange and frightening ways. This is a film not to be missed.