Monkey Mania (The Gift review)

I feel compelled to tell the truth dear readers, especially after this weeks film. Seeing a “Certified Fresh” logo on the box art of the blu-ray may have been the clincher that won me over VS watching South Paw or Pixels. That, and I heard a number of bad things about the other two movies.

But that is neither here nor there when it comes down to it. It’s Theatrical Tuesday, and I’ll provide you with a film review, dammit.

 

 

 

The Gift (2015)
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Director: Joel Edgerton
released on blu-ray October 27, 2015
******** 10/10

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IMDB: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Audience Score 78%
The Guardian: ****/*****

This is Joel Edgerton’s first feature length film. He has been known for a number of performances over the years (Owen Lars in Star Wars, Gawain in King Arthur, Brendan Conlon in The Thing, and Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, among 60 other roles), but this is Edgerton’s third time producing a film too.

Wait! He directed, helped produce, and acted in this film? Yes. But lots of actors have done that before. Heck, Jon Favreau and Eli Roth act in their own movies ALL THE TIME.

But this is notably Edgerton’s first time directing a full length movie.

Anyway, now that I’ve made my point clear, this one was amazing my friends. I am so glad I picked it up, because it has cemented itself in my top 10 for movies this year, and assuredly in my top 5. I’ll have to get back to you on where it lands at the end of the year though.

So what is this story about?

Simon Callum (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) have recently moved back to Simon’s home-town of Chicago for his career and to work on starting a family. They are visiting a furniture store when Simon is approached by an old acquaintance from high school. Simon struggles with the exchange until the guy introduces himself as Gordon Mosely, or Gordo. This jumpstarts Simon’s memory and they agree to exchange numbers and get together sometime.

Gordo later stops by unannounced with a gift of window cleaner and contact numbers for local services, after having left some wine. Robyn invites him in, gives him a tour, and insists he stay for dinner. The three have some dinner together and Gordo tells a story of Simon’s class presidency. Building up the idea of his slogan “Simon Says” to suggest he gets whatever he wants, which definitely turns Simon off and Robyn somewhat as well.

Simon decides that Gordo shouldn’t visit anymore and leaves a joke on the fridge referring to his HS nickname Gordo the Weirdo. But Gordo continues to leave gifts and stop by during the day, until he happens upon the message on the fridge and leaves in a hurry. The couple are later surprised when he invites them to a dinner at his house.

They drive up to a nice home and are greeted by Gordo, but learn that the other couple have cancelled . The three make some small talk before Gordo is interrupted by an important work call and says he needs to leave to take it. While they are alone Simon and Robyn snoop through the house and Simon continues to make fun of Gordo. They find women’s clothing in the house, contrary to Gordo’s earlier comment that he is single. When Gordo does come back, Simon asks about his work, and Gordo admits he is not working and that he is estranged from his wife and family but staying at her place. Simon asks Robyn to leave and tells Gordo to stop visiting them.

The next day Robyn discovers dead koi fish in their pond (originally a gift from Gordo), and that their dog is missing.

Simon goes back to Gordo’s, and is greeted by a woman he assumes is Gordo’s wife, but we learn he broke into that house. The couple decide to involve the police but Gordo had previously worked for the family he used as a decoy and likely had a key. The cops can only question Gordo without evidence and he’d know the Callums sent them.

Robyn doesn’t handle the tension well. She steals pills from a friend of hers and later faints in the bedroom. Waking up on the bed instead of the floor.

Super spooky right?

I can’t write much more without giving away the twist at the end, but I will confirm that it doesn’t end how you think it might. In fact there is a solid 45 minutes of buildup left in the story before the move ties up lost ends and which will leave you clutching your chest, and possibly sick to your stomach – particularly with monkey masks.

Pros: This one is another slow burner, but considering it’s a shorter movie and the pauses and pacing are intentional, it helps. Jason Bateman has 100% given the performance of his career to date, and I hope he does another serious film. Edgerton’s storytelling ability is amazing, and I WILL watch his next movie.

Cons: However the plot twist turned out (we aren’t sure at the end), what is implied is pretty messed up and would be hard to walk away from, no matter what.

Runtime: 108 minutes

Points of Interest: Joel Edgerton filmed his scenes well in advance of shooting and completed them in less than a week. Gordo gives 10 or 11 gifts throughout the film, depending how you interpret events. There is an alternate ending to the film…

Seriously though, you need to watch this movie. Run, don’t walk to your nearest purchasing method and sit yourself down. You will cringe, you will think, and you will be impressed. This movie is THAT well done.

I don’t have much else to say at this time folks. I hope you have an excellent Tuesday, and if you are able to celebrate Remembrance Day tomorrow, please give it the respect it deserves. I’ll see you for some more theories in the evening.

Tim!

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