Tag Archives: Jason Bateman

The Gift (2015)

19 Aug

Joel Edgerton makes his directorial debut with the psychological creepout The Gift. Starring Edgerton himself alongside Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, the film follows a married couple, Simon and Robyn, as they make a chance encounter with Simon’s former classmate Gordo. Eager to win over their friendship, Gordo begins leaving strange, mysteriously-wrapped gifts on the couple’s doorstep. It might seem like a nice gesture, but it’s enough to get Simon riled up about having an outsider bringing up a few skeletons from an unknown shared past. What starts out as a seemingly one-way bromance between old schoolmates soon escalates into a paranoia fuelled, though cliche-ridden final act, wherein Simon decides to take matters into his own hands.

 

Distributor Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, The Purge) have made a name for themselves by delivering ultra low budget/high concept genre fare for almost a decade now, and make a perfect combo for The Gift. While the film does rely mostly on a been-there-done-that concept, Edgerton seems to feel comfortable in both the acting and directorial camps, and the film flows effortlessly enough from one plot point to the next. Also of note are the surprisingly natural performances. Jason Bateman fits all too easily into his self righteous, pragmatic and emotionally distant character, as does Edgerton playing the self conscious nice-guy turned baddie. However the real standout of the film lies with Rebecca Hall in her portrayal of Robyn, the independent career woman forced to play the negotiator between the stalker and stalked. While at many times the film follows a standard, paint-by-numbers thriller game, Edgerton is familiar enough with the genre to shake up his audience just when things get into familiar territory. Though many will call the final twist overkill (and rightly so), there is a fine line to walk between feeling too manipulative and too trapped in it’s genre.

 

Bottom Line: It’s by no means the David Fincher-esc film it pretends to be, but there is an irresistible charm to this film, and, thanks to some clever screenwriting, The Gift actually adds up to be a lot smarter than the familiar premise would let on.

 

Rating: 7/10 

Film Recipe: One Hour Photo (2006), + Fatal Attraction (1987), + Play Misty For Me (1971) 

Disconnect (2012)

5 Jan

In a society growing more and more reliant on digital technology,  does such technology fundamentally the way in which we are communicating and connecting with one another? This is the questions Disconnect asks the audience, and through s series of interconnecting stories we see the multiple effects the digital age has created for its users.

Structurally similar to the 2006 Best Picture Award Winner Crash,  Disconnect strings together a series of characters and incidents surrounding the use and abuse of digital media. A lonely housewife flirts with an online stranger.. a highschool boy starts a fake Facebook profile as a joke… someone’s digital identity is stolen, someone’s daughter receives a sexually explicit text… you get the idea.  The film’s message is obvious right from the title screen.

What makes the film work is its use of editing back and forth between the stories to keep the film moving forward at a brisk pace.  Despite an overbearing amount of melodrama, the narrative is engaging, and the film paints an effective portrait of 21st-century life. Things get bugged down during the third act where a predictable finish is delivered to us in a painful slow-motion.  By this time, the audience is so numb from the film shouting in our faces about the evils of the digital world, this final sequence is simply an anti-climatic way of wrapping things up.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Henry-Alex Rubin, the film stars Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgaard, who all give good-enough performances to make up for some of the less-than-enthusiastic child acting.

Rating: 7/10

Similar to: Crash, Babel, 21 Grams