"starts off very slow, with a stinted script that, whilst very human, makes for an awkward watch"

The Gift follows the upheaval of Simon and Robyn, a couple with an apparently troubled past, who move to California for a fresh start. However, therein lay the first problem. Whilst past problems are hinted at and mentioned often, we never receive a full explanation of the extent of these problems, or indeed the cause of them.

The couple’s new start is somewhat interceded, however, by the arrival of a new – or old, as it turns out – friend. Joel Edgerton’s Gordo turns up early on, bumping in to the couple as they shop, claiming to know Simon from school. The meeting soon ends up in an exchange of numbers and a date set to catch up. That’s when it starts – the gifts. Gordo creepily leaves gifts outside the couple’s door which, whilst well intended, leave them feeling uncomfortable. This continues until Simon decides to ask him to stop, leaving him hurt, and secrets of the past begin to come to light.

The first notable aspect of The Gift is Jason Bateman’s transition from his usual “nice guy”, “funny man” roles. He steps, not unconvincingly, into the role of the selfish and aggressive Simon. Simon clearly loves his wife and dog and yet has an identifiably mean streak, resulting from an apparent need to get his own way – creating a multi-layered and very human character. However, he seems to be the only one. Robyn (Rebecca Hall) boasts an uncharacteristic past with drugs, as well as desperation to start a family – however, she reaches about a 0.5 on the ‘maternal nature’ scale, so this is unconvincing.

Another character issue is Gordo himself – whether he is a good guy in bad circumstances or a deranged psychopath remains pretty much undetermined throughout the film, and whilst Edgerton may well have written it with that as the intention, one hopes for some sort of conclusion and is ultimately disappointed.

The film starts off very slow, with a stinted script that, whilst very human, makes for an awkward watch. As events begin to unravel, whilst the gist of the story is reasonably easy to follow, this is predominantly due to its predictability rather than smooth writing. The film ultimately feels disjointed, and you are constantly waiting for the big bow to come along and tie everything together in the climax, but the final explanations never seem to come.

It’s creepy enough, but the story itself feels a little lacklustre. I didn’t feel gripped at any point, and had I stopped watching half way through, I don’t think I would have been too bothered about finding out what happened.

It’s like the film that’s on Channel 4 on Sunday night, after the film that you wanted to watch, but you’re still quite comfortable, and you have a bit of popcorn left, so you stay up and watch it anyway. Not entirely pointless, but nothing to write home about either.