I am forever the girl with the unpopular opinions. Thankfully, I have a place to toss them out. Please note: I recognize we all bring our own baggage and issues to every experience. I call shit out for being “wrong” or saying “NO” a lot below – and while this is just the way that I have interpreted this film and written about it, it is by no means me saying you are actually wrong for feeling how you feel or interpreting what you interpreted. Also, because I’m not entirely a heartless beast – TRIGGER WARNING: Rape.
TL;DR I enjoyed this movie and I think reviews, like The Mary Sue’s, are inaccurate and a gross misrepresentation of what The Gift was actually about.
** THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE **
The Gift has been nothing if not controversial, and that actually makes my enjoyment of this film a little broader. So, why the ranting and raving that is about ensue? Well, because. I feel like the negative reviews and the rhetoric being tossed around about the “twist”, “shock” ending is bullshit and gloriously misinterpreted. I also feel like it’s taken out of context and being fed to readers – as one critic put it – “as a public service” to keep people from seeing the movie. Which I also think is utter fucking bullshit.
So, here is what you need to know about The Gift, without the spoilers: Simon and Robyn have moved back to Simon’s childhood romps to start a new life. Gordon (Gordo) spies them in a store and says hello – believing that he knows Simon from school. They awkwardly exchange pleasantries and phone numbers. Gordo begins dropping off gifts, making surprise visits, and generally becoming weirder and creepier as the movie progresses. You learn why and the movie quickly begins to spiral into an unsettling series of revenge tactics.
The Gift is a masterful piece of manipulation. It lives in this perfectly gray area of right and wrong, revenge and forgiveness. I think it’s fucking brilliant that way. So, here’s what I want to address in regards to the plethora of reviews, tweets, posts, and etc… I’ve been reading that have all but burned this movie to the ground because of … moral superiority?
Simon – he’s the bad guy, okay. Sure, he has money and a wife and a job and a house on a hill. But he’s an asshole. He’s a bully. He’s done bad things and now he’s having bad things done to him.
Gordon – he’s bad guy, okay. Sure, he has no money, no wife, and a string of shitty jobs. But he’s an asshole. He was bullied and now he’s getting revenge – rather than letting bygones actually be bygones.
Robyn – she’s the moral compass. Which is fucking hysterical considering her past is filled with questionable judgement and addictions. So, hooray?
Arguable points… in no particular order.
Simon is being such an asshole, why can’t he be as nice as Robyn is to Gordo, and why is he belittling Robyn about it in front of friends/co-workers?
WOAH! Were you watching the same movie I was? Gordo was a fucking creeper from word one. In fact, after the second “gift” he leaves at the house, I was surprised they didn’t fucking call the cops, set up traps, move, or burn the place down. Just because someone is being nice, or being gullible, doesn’t mean that what’s happening isn’t fucking creepy and the other person’s response isn’t valid. Yes, Simon is an ass – but I was with him about trying to break up with Gordo. Note: Step one in Gordo’s master manipulation, endear yourself to one party, creep out the other.
The implication that Robyn should have a baby, shut up, and be happy – because that’s what women do – is a tired and unnecessary trope.
True. It is a tired and unnecessary trope but, at no fucking time is this the issue of this movie. Robyn, in case you weren’t paying attention to the first act of the film, WANTED a baby. She was pregnant previously. We are lead to believe that either a) her addictions caused her to miscarry or b) her miscarriage caused her to become addicted, again. Her character was introduced to us with that background already, firmly, in place.
This movie has no ring of emotional truth.
Are you fucking kidding me? Have you NEVER met someone that holds a grudge so strongly after a wrong-doing that you couldn’t imagine them taking their revenge? Have you NEVER met someone that was such a manipulative fuckwad that those closest to them couldn’t see it? Have you NEVER met someone that suffered from anxiety and addiction that was attempting to make amends with their own soul and those around them? HAVE YOU NEVER MET PEOPLE?!?!?
Robyn is just a pawn in men’s games and is reduced to a silent mother – like everyone thinks women should be.
No. Fucking no. Robyn AND Simon are a pawn in Gordo’s game. Did you watch the movie, or did you see a woman being manipulated and just stop there? This isn’t a battle between Simon and Gordo. Simon, at first, isn’t even aware it IS a battle. In fact, he remains pretty unaware of this fact until Gordo begins to pit the couple against each other. At that point the manipulation of both parties is clear to the audience, not just through Robyn who has been our avatar, but through Gordo – because his plan is coming to fruition. Note: Step two in Gordo’s plan, create distrust.
The “twist”/”shock” ending is just disgusting and another in a long line of rape-as-plot-point…
Again. WHAT?! This final “twist” ending should not, in any way, have been a surprise to anyone watching this film. It was initially unclear what Gordo’s end goal was – or how far he was willing to go to reach his achievement – however, it becomes more and more obvious as the film progresses exactly to what extent Gordo is willing to fuck with these two people, especially Simon. It’s a plot point that spins the movie back around and makes you ask “what the fuck” – but it’s still nothing more than an end note; a final nail in Simon’s comeuppance coffin. And to be pissed because it’s rape is to be pissed at something you cannot possibly know. Which leads me to…
But Robyn was raped and no one told her – just like a man’s movie to ignore the woman that something horrible happened to.
First – the amount of people getting pissed off that Robyn was raped is hysterical to me. Yes, fucking laughable. Because how do you KNOW she was raped? You cannot. You absolutely cannot know for certain that she was raped. I’m sorry. That’s the fact here. The movie leaves it completely wide open for interpretation. If you’re interpreting it that she was indeed raped, then that is entirely on you, now, isn’t it? Second – WHEN, just WHEN did you expect for anyone to tell Robyn about any of this? Between the 1 and 1.5 minute mark before the movie ENDED?! Oh, you wanted the movie to carry on for another hour and a half to bring this information to light and work out every aspect of Gordo’s revenge between Simon and Robyn? You wanted a DNA test? You wanted revenge back on Gordo? Well, that’s just an entirely different movie then, yeah?
But… Robyn is left as this silent figure…
Again – for the last, maybe, THREE minutes, of the movie. We don’t see Robyn interacting with Gordo much. She requests her divorce and gives Simon the silent treatment – seems reasonable to me. The next minute is the unveiling of the maybe-rape. The final moment is Robyn getting ready to breastfeed her child and having the curtains closed on Simon. What the fuck is the problem here? What did you want her to say? Did you need her to spell it out for you that she was now an empowered woman, having figured out the truth about her husband and feeling confident in her ability to continue life and raise a life without him? Jesus.
It’s awful that we are still supposed to feel bad for Simon.
If you think for one minute that you are supposed to feel guilt or remorse or some sort of empathy for Simon at the end you are insane. I felt rage and and righteousness towards his misery and struggle to figure out how he would live with what he now thought he knew. You know – until the next ten minutes when he got a DNA test to figure out that Gordo was really just a master manipulator.
And that’s the thing to remember here. The Gift is all about manipulation. It manipulated people to get pissed off and angry about shit that didn’t exist, and by extension, it manipulated me into ranting about it. Ugh.
PS – if you want my opinion – and let’s face it, you made it this far, you might as well keep going for a couple words – Robyn was NOT raped. Gordo wanted to instill helplessness and fear into Simon. Something he was all too familiar with after Simon lied. Gordo’s entire goal was to use Simon’s own distrust and lies against him. It would serve no purpose to actually rape Robyn. Not only that, but with so many answers being hidden throughout the film there is one key ingredient that makes me believe this: After Robyn’s run, when she gets her drink from the fridge – it is a fresh bottle. She twists open the sealed cap and drinks from it. Later, in Gordo’s video, he seemingly shows that he has drugged Robyn’s drink, but it’s an already opened bottle that he’s sloshing around – presumably the one she let fall to the ground when freaked out that someone was in her house, again manipulating the way we see the events. It’s like sleight-of-hand with Gatorade.
Anyway. End rant.