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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Gift movie review: give it back unopened

The Gift red light

Descends into emotional idiocy and insufficient intrigue to end in a disgusting place that presumes that a woman is an appropriate pawn in games men play.
I’m “biast” (pro): like the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh, but The Gift is an infuriating movie on so many levels. It can’t decide if it wants to be serious drama or a salacious thriller, and so it’s nowhere near enough of either, and each aspect seems to be laughing at the other. It touches on sensitive, tangled emotional matters that could easily be the basis for either sort of movie — how the effects of bullying in childhood linger into adulthood; how stress and grief can render us unable to function in daily life; how even the most intimate of relationships can be tinged by a lack of trust; and more — but it fumbles all of them so badly that it contradicts itself constantly, as if it doesn’t really understand the pain it is attempting to appropriate. It wants you to doubt who the villain is but doesn’t have the nerve to do anything meaningful with that gambit.

And all of that is before it gets to its “shocking” finale…

I’m trying not to spoil. Suffice to say that The Gift, after descending into emotional idiocy and insufficient intrigue, ends up in a disgusting place that presumes its audience will be horrified at the repulsive suggestion that a medieval notion about marriage has been contravened. Granted, this notion remains something that some real people in the real world still believe, and it’s an awful trope that movies like this one frequently trot out. But it is a trope that deserves to die, not be perpetuated.

I cannot even say that The Gift — written and, in his feature debut, directed by actor Joel Edgerton — starts out promising. Almost from the get-go, we are led down a path that treats Robyn (Rebecca Hall: Transcendence, A Promise) as an appropriate battleground for a war of wills between her husband, Simon (Jason Bateman: A Lego Brickumentary, Horrible Bosses 2), and an old school friend of his, Gordo (Edgerton: Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Great Gatsby). (The movie is totally onboard with the idea that women are properly pawns in games men play.) The couple have just moved back to Los Angeles — to one of those masterpieces of midcentury architecture faced with huge glass windows, all the better for creepazoids to loom out of the darkness beyond into — when they run into Gordo in a shop. Simon doesn’t remember the guy at all, except that he was a bit of an oddball, which seems proven when Gordo shows up at the house without invitation (and clearly having obtained the address in some nefarious way, because they didn’t give it to him) several times, bearing increasingly and inappropriately extravagant gifts, and only when Robyn is home alone. Still, Robyn thinks that while Gordo may be a little socially awkward, he seems okay… but Simon is increasingly weirded out and wants to break off the new forced friendship.

There are several intriguing directions this basic scenario could have gone in: The Gift ignores all of them and choses one that has no ring of emotional truth at all… but which, I suspect, it thinks is incisive and subtly smart. Even though Simon was the one who didn’t want anything to do with Gordo, and rather condescendingly informs others that it’s only because Robyn is “too nice” that she struck up a friendship with the other man, Robyn is suddenly bizarrely cast in the role of the fragile irrational when she begins to see that Gordo might actually be pretty creepy after all. But of course she’s delicate and unreasonable and probably not to be trusted! She lost a baby at some point prior to the beginning of the story here, and went through a “rough patch.” We’re meant to wonder if Simon is now gaslighting his wife, trying to deflect her from getting suspicious about his long-ago high-school relationship with Gordo. But it’s the movie that is gaslighting Robyn, seemingly positioning her in the center of the story when what is meant to be the significant stuff is happening elsewhere.

And The Gift gaslights the audience, too. It sets itself up in a way that seems to be a preemptive attack on detractors by borrowing hot-button and even feminist issues but then treating them in implausible ways. So now for us to complain about them opens us to charges that we’re being unreasonable, or that we cannot see the seriousness of such issues… or, conversely but not at all atypically, that we’re taking it all too seriously. But we’re doing nothing of the sort. Of course some women suffer in the wake of a miscarriage… but not like this. Of course marriages can have trust issues… but not like this. Of course bullies deserve their comeuppance… but not like this.


See also: spoiler alert: about the ending of The Gift


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Gift for its representation of girls and women.


red light 1 star

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The Gift (2015)
US/Can release: Aug 07 2015
UK/Ire release: Aug 07 2015

MPAA: rated R for language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, threat)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Ann

    Perhaps the woman’s role as a pawn to manipulate, but not entirely debase her — thus gradually progressing the story. You should’ve just went and seen Hot Pursuit..

  • Danielm80

    This is a job for Fargo North Decoder! You seem to have composed this comment with random phrases from a Magnetic Poetry set.

  • LaSargenta

    I’ve seen so many comments all over the Web that read like word salad, but don’t seem to be spam. I have started to think too many people are posting using a talk-to-text function. A friend has done that and sent me really weird stuff beyond the somewhat funny auto-correct garbled messages.

  • LaSargenta

    I saw the trailer for this and was immediately turned off by the architecture. Anyone who lives in a house like that deserves stalkers.

    That’s not a house, it is a bauhaus gazebo with beds and a kitchen.

  • The original comment was from someone who has been banned many times and keeps popping up under other IP addresses (but still ones I can still connect to this person).

  • LaSargenta

    Do they like Magnetic Poetry?

  • Danielm80

    How odd. Even the Young Person Named After a Tasty Treat used to write sentences with nouns and verbs in them.

  • MrMovieDude

    Every review I see from you always descends into feminism talk. Change your tune.

  • Jeff Nyman

    Why should she change her tune? Are you suggesting that someone shouldn’t speak their own mind simply because you, and maybe some others, disagree with them? That strikes me as a fairly pathetic way to approach things.

    If you don’t like this person’s review style, you are certainly free to suggest a possible feminist stance. But I don’t think it’s in your purview to suggest they change their tune.

    Since you feel free to issue statements of what people should do, perhaps you’ll forgive me doing the same. Maybe what you should do is learn to embrace the idea that someone has a different view than you do and learn what you can from that. I went into this review fully expecting to disagree with it but, in the end, it made me think. If anything it makes me want to see the film to see if I agree or disagree with the substantive points in this review.

  • Jurgan

    Some of us read this site specifically because we like seeing movies reviewed from a feminist perspective.

  • To what tune shall I change? One that accepts the male-dominated status quo?

  • Danielm80

    No, it’s just that politics have no place in a film review. The Hunger Games series, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Neil Blomkamp’s films are mindless action movies with nothing to say about issues like class warfare. The X-Men films, Get Hard, Ted 2, and McFarland USA are innocent fun to distract us from the race issues that are always in the news. And there’s no excuse for ever bringing up sexism in a movie review. Feminism has been dead for at least a generation. Why can’t you just turn off your brain and enjoy the movie?

    Yes, I did have a bad day at work. Why do you ask?

  • Elizabeth Black

    Honestly, you should just go away and let the author review movies however she wants. You do not need to be here, and whining about feminism like an uneducated little man-child will do nothing but waste your time. Go to some dudebro site to get your mush-brain reviews and be happy there. The internet is a big place with room enough for everyone.

  • Elizabeth Black

    Your comment descended into something that I didn’t like. Change it.

  • MidxMidwest

    Shouldn’t “I am biast (con)” include your particular views on feminism? Your reaction to women in this film seems to be heavily influenced by your take on feminism in film. And as I looked over your bingo card, I also noted at how many of the squares were related in some way to women or feminism. FeministFlickFilosopher? Nothing wrong with that beyond what appears to be a failure to acknowledge your own biases (which is ironic, given the length you go to call out your biases–which is very cool btw and more critics should do so).

  • Danielm80

    Oh dear. I don’t even know how to begin to respond to that. Whatever mental picture you have of me, imagine that I’m wearing this t-shirt (which, a lot of the time, I am):

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2013/08/the-mark-of-snark-a-new-flickfilosopher-t-shirt.html

    Also: I wrote this:

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2015/02/film-review-comment-bingo.html

  • Shiraz

    I watched the trailer, and thought, “Oh, so they’re going to make this a stalker thing, but later cast the hairy eyeball towards Bateman’s character. As in, maybe Bateman did wrong against the stalker and stalker is actually seeking justice, then the audience is suppose to be all, WOW.
    Meh, I dunno. I was kind of curious about this film, but…
    I noticed the couple’s home was in desperate need of curtains.

  • LaSargenta

    Now, now…don’t hop on the defensive. Just apologise for not including your /sarcasm bit at the end.

    Elizabeth, meet Daniel, Daniel meet Elizabeth. His parody signals get lost at the end of a hard day but we keep him around anyhow.

    ;-)

  • LaSargenta

    Check out her About page. I’m pretty sure she lays it out. Or you could even click on the link that is at the bottom of the biast box: critic’s minifesto.

  • Elizabeth Black

    Ohhh! It’s becoming too rare to see any men who aren’t foaming-at-the-mount hostile toward feminism. I’ve seen similar comments which were very earnest. Good to know you’re not a part of them… and I want that t-shirt.

  • Danielm80

    I wear the shirt all the time, to warn people in advance–especially on days like yesterday, when I was a walking Snicker’s Bar ad. It was a very bad day at work, and I was at constant risk of turning into Danny Trejo.

  • PretenderNX01

    Poe’s Law: “without a clear indicator of intent it is often hard to distinguish sarcasm from genuine extremism” aka “put a ;) at the end of it”

  • Danielm80

    The other problem is that my comment wasn’t really that funny.

  • Feminism is not a negative.

  • MidxMidwest

    Generally agree. I’m just observing that your particular feminist POV is the main motivator for your negative review, hence it’s a bias (or biast) that would fit in the “con” category (working with the biast pro/biast con binary). The reason why you don’t like this film is that it treats women like a trophy. As a certain type of feminist, that’s a huge turn-off, so you’re giving the film a negative review. And you’re totally entitled to that. Your review, your site.

  • Danielm80

    You make a good point: MaryAnn is a feminist, and when a film portrays women badly, that really stands out to her, and it affects her view of the movie. Here’s my question: If a film portrayed characters in a racist or anti-Semitic way, would you expect her to say, “I’m ‘biast’ (con): I hate bigots”? Or would you assume that most people reading the review also hate bigots?

    A fair number of the people reading this site are bothered by sexist tropes in movies. Some of us are also bothered when people claim not to notice sexism, or think it’s a trivial part of the movie. Sexism has a huge effect on our culture. So her “bias” against it is a little different than a distaste for Adam Sandler movies or Marvel comics.

  • My feminist objections to the film are only part of my negative reaction to it. And I’ve given plenty of other films negative reviews based on my moral objection to what is depicted that *isn’t* connected to feminist matters.

    I have to wonder whether you even read my review if you can say “The reason why you don’t like this film is that it treats women like a trophy.”

  • Dominic Sebastian Xavier Gassm

    I’ll give you credit, your unique approach of being blatantly feminist and connecting that to your movie review worked; I’m here simply because of how unorthodox that is. That said, you’re never going to have more than a niche audience if you don’t drop the feminist/political crap. You make interesting points about the movie that don’t connect to the feminist theme; you could easily appeal to a broader audience. Just a thought. If you like your niche, keep to it. Personally, I see the fact that you are the only rotten review for this movie as a joke, and an unwarranted blemish on the films review list. The movie is amazing and a great thriller. Who cares if it can’t pick between “serious drama or a salacious thriller”? Does it have to conform to one of the two? Seems hypocritcal for you to demand conformity, since you’ve already said in these comments that we should reject the “male-dominated status quo”. I think your movie review is trash, but you are indeed a professional “stand-out”

  • Jonathan Caplan

    Wow! You really do sound like an angry male-hating lesbian.

  • MidxMidwest

    I definitely read it. I haven’t seen the film, but yours is a significantly contrarian review; that is, the “objective” elements you criticize seem to be missing from other critics’ assessments of the film. I’ll see the film over the next week or so and form my own opinion, but my early sense is that your visceral reaction to the trophy woman treatment has colored your perception of the rest of the film.

    Again, that’s completely fine. Feminist film theory and critique is a completely valid angle to assess film. But I don’t think you’re completely owning the extent to which your social/political mindset has affected your perception of the movie.

  • Tammy

    Does the dog die?

  • bronxbee

    and what sort of audience do you get if you drop a unique point of view and feed mainstream pablum to your readers? almost every critic has a viewpoint… otherwise, what is the point in reading them?

  • Danielm80

    and what sort of audience do you get if you drop a unique point of view and feed mainstream pablum to your readers?

    Ask Mitt Romney.
    I was going to say Hillary Clinton, but I’m not sure she ever had a unique point of view.

  • Danielm80

    I’m puzzled by your comment. Which “objective” elements are you talking about? And what makes you think that a film review should be objective?

    Also: Can you give an example of “trophy woman treatment”? I’m not sure what that term is supposed to mean, outside the context of Donald Trump.

  • Kevin

    You seem like the type of lady that calls the cops on kids playing door bell ditch because you believe the kids assume the female will adhere to the normal stereotypes of a woman answering a ringing door.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Which Young Person is that?

  • Tonio Kruger

    Would you prefer the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” or Groucho Marx’s “I’m Against It”? :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    She went from supporting Barry Goldwater to supporting Bill Clinton. So she has a unique point of view, all right. But not necessarily a logical or consistent one.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Dominic, your response is completely on point. This is the second review of hers that I’ve seen on RT. The first was IT FOLLOWS, and she did the same exact thing with that movie. It had a 100% rating until she reviewed it solely based on her opinion about the horror convention of punishing women for having sex, which was strange given the fact that only two people were killed and one of them was a guy who had sex, so on that point alone the review had trouble holding up on its own self-prescribed merit. I would be willing to guess that Gone Girl and a few others received the same treatment.

    The simple truth is that feminism can’t extricate it’s worldview bias because it’s not within its nature to be objective, so the idea of even attempting to point out how ridiculous it is to sully a movie’s perfect rating based on one of its most inconsequential and virtually nonexistent plot strands is a rather useless passion. There seems to be a common thread in PC critics where archetypes are taken for stereotypes, but whatever. In short, you won’t get far convincing a feminist of anything. But for the record, I don’t think she’s interested in much more than a niche audience, otherwise this so-called review site wouldn’t be a synthesis of movies and feminism.

    Quite frankly, your main beef should be with RT for posting her reviews to their site. She’s free to write feminist fluff on her own site, even free to stew in the apparent hostility she seem to be stewing in judging by the way she responds to people, but it doesn’t belong on a highly trafficked and credentialed movie review data hub that people rely on for a semblance of objectivity. Asking them to ban her reviews from being posted is probably more constructive than going on her site to talk about how her reviews are a joke. In the case of the former, they may actually listen to you.

  • Shaneeqwa

    So I saw this movie last night and let me tell you, it was exhilarating and amazing. This chick reviewing clearly got a chip on her shoulder because what we have here is an original, thrilling take on “Fatal Attraction” with twists that turn it into something unexpected and ultimately nasty and rewarding for those who don’t necessarily prefer their entertainment tied up in a pretty little red bow (pardon the
    gift” pun). Yes, this turns out to be a ‘mano a mano’ thriller between two men with a woman caught in the middle. Is she a pawn? Maybe. But it’s delightful fun and uncompromising. If you want whitewashed fluff go see “Marleigh and Me”!

  • LaSargenta

    Hey! Check it out! Here’s another one of those weirdos who thinks the RT binary ratings actually mean something.

  • LaSargenta

    I don’t think they read the reviews, only the RT amalgamation thereof.

  • LaSargenta

    How about “Shut Up” by the Coathangers?

  • Dominic Sebastian Xavier Gassm

    They certainly mean something, and whether you believe that or not, you seem to be trashing someone for having an opinion. Liberal double standards, eh?

  • LaSargenta

    Not trashing, laughing. #getoveryourself

  • Let’s not give this person any more attention, please.

  • In what way could *anything* I have said be construed as either “male-hating” or “lesbian”?

    Angry, I’ll give you. I am angry. What’s wrong with being angry? (What’s wrong with being a lesbian, either?)

  • Maybe those elements aren’t “objective.”

  • Thanks for the advice. I’ll get right on it.

  • I don’t think “objectivity” means what you think it means.

  • You’ll have to see the film.

  • BraveGamgee

    Oh MaryAnn, why can’t you just be objective? Don’t you realize that because *I* have never noticed the way that women are mistreated/misrepresented in media, that means your observations are invalid and all in your head? If you had my worldview, you’d be objective. Conform to my way of thinking, MaryAnn. CONFORM (sarcasm)

  • Kellyfergison

    You should read the book Are Women Human? by Catharine A. MacKinnon

  • leah

    MaryAnn, I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this comment and if not my apologies, but you have the patience of a saint dealing with these…people. How dare you sully the sanctity of a Rotten Tomatoes score with your professional, well-articulated, independent criticism! (The regard with which these people hold Rotten Tomatoes scores and how personally they take any dissent from their preferred narrative is downright hilarious, I mean if it wasn’t so pathetic and disturbing.)
    I can’t even imagine how tiresome it is to hear the same ignorant nonsense and insults time and time again for pointing out instances of insidious and overt male bias in film, which goes largely unexamined by the overwhelmingly male cabal of reviewers/critics – a critical FAILING on their part, which makes the people who come after you look even sillier; but their conditioning to accept and defend to the status quo prevents them from seeing that it’s you who are actually more objective and inclusive in your assessments than most critics, who don’t see, or ignore, or don’t care about, or are too inept or cowardly or lazy to examine the institutionalized male bias and sexism so pervasive in movies as a component of the overall examination and criticism of film as an art form.
    I suppose in an a weird, awful way the ignoramuses who write in to call you a man-hating lesbian or chastise you for not viewing film from the typical male perspective are proof of how much your point of view is needed and missing from the mainstream, an affirmation. Thank goodness too for your group of smart, articulate regular commenters here who respond so well to such commentary, it makes reading the awful stuff far more bearable.

  • Lynn23

    Fascinating to see so many male commenters discounting MaryAnn’s point of view! She speaks for many women who are tired of seeing stories like this one where the woman serves as a pawn in a story between two men. Even if the overall movie plot is interesting, it’s hard as a female to see this kind of stuff over and over and not have it affect your sense of self. If the marginalization of women was just an occasional event in movies, hey one could overlook it. But the frequent portrayal of women as sex objects, or nurturers/supporters of men while the men have the experiences, or possessions that men protect and then get to be the hero, etc. etc. Like MaryAnn, many women are starved for movies that portray women as human beings that are not somehow tied up in a man’s story. Why is that so threatening? I am not surprised that the other movie reviewers don’t point out the things that MaryAnn does. It takes awareness and courage to go against the tide, and sometimes we women ourselves don’t even see the sexism in movies when it’s right in our faces, because it’s so pervasive that it can seem normal.

  • leah

    I just wrote something with a few similar points above, but I wanted to add here that it’s always valuable to note how deeply internalized male-normative sexism and misogyny can be in women as well as men, so your final point here is much appreciated.

  • There are literally hundreds of other film sites at which you can find bland, dull reviews that ignore the cultural context of a movie. If someone is forcing you to read my too-political reviews, you should tell them that’s not a nice thing to do.

  • What makes you think I haven’t? :-)

    Is there something specifically about my review that prompted you to suggest this book?

  • insidious and overt male bias in film, which goes largely unexamined by the overwhelmingly male cabal of reviewers/critics – a critical FAILING on their part

    I honestly believe that many — perhaps most — of them really just don’t see it. Because it’s been built in to pop culture forever (with only a few blips of anomaly along the way when women made a slightly better showing). Even many women don’t notice it.

    When people get fed something as normal, most of them accept it without question.

  • I just replied to someone else’s comment saying almost exactly the same thing!

    Also too: It’s not fun to take abuse from strangers on the Internet. It’s much easier to just go with the flow and not court the ire of the mob.

  • RogerBW

    Someone has to be the first to admit the Emperor’s clothes are a bit lacking in substance. What I still find surprising is the number of people, presumably not connected with the production of a film, who tie up their self-worth in what other people think of it.

  • RogerBW

    I support the combination is the only sort of woman who could possibly not be interested in sleeping with this tower of manliness.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    I know what it DOESN’T mean – telling someone you don’t think it means what they think it means. Objectivity isn’t a matter of perspective. It’s being able to separate yourself from the petty emotional attachments that determine judgments to weigh all perspectives in their proper context in order to reach a conclusion. Nothing said or done out of anger, outrage, blame, or sense of self righteousness ever comes from a place of objectivity.

    For example, an objective view of feminism might be to recognize that women haven’t had it easy in the world, but to admit that no one else has either, and that it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, or that it can be attributed to one particular reason. Refusal to go beyond subjective reality is what makes feminism somewhat misguided, and growing more misguided as it continues to feed on the increasing sense of fear, entitlement, egoism and vulnerability that it lays on women, or the shame, guilt and “feminization” that it lays on men. An objective conclusion would be to say that being completely irascible is NOT a constructive way to improve society, but rather a way to destroy it. To see it without emotional attachment would be to step back and see the progression of first, second, and third wave in a clear pattern of an ideal that may have started out with well intentions but eventually morphed into a diseased monster on steroids (see the potty mouthed fuckhate feminists, the University of Toronto protests, most of current film and television, or any example in mainstream “news” as examples of this).

    Case in point, when you review a movie that executes almost all of its major story elements to perfection, and you zero in on the most meaningless strand of its artistic expression to bring the entire thing down, you are reviewing from a place of personal anger, outrage, blame and self righteousness. Not only is that extremely unfair to a movie that has made a serious effort to respect its audience (despite your emotional opinion of a minor plot strand), it’s also unfair to the readers being subjecting to that very anger, outrage, blame, and self-righteousness when all they really wanted was an objective reference point to decide whether or not this movie was worth seeing.

  • LaSargenta

    Since you are making such a big deal about it, I must point out that O/objectivity is sorely lacking in your excessively emotional comment. I won’t be reading any more of your writing since you cannot control your choices of words even at a keyboard.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Oh, boy. Where to begin with this one. Do you really think Ms. Johanson is demonstrating the quality of patience here, or that any undesirable responses aren’t the result of consequence? Let’s rearrange the scenario into a metaphor for a moment and you tell me if patience is the first thing that comes to mind.

    You’re in line at the gas station, waiting for someone in front of you to finish filling up their tank. The guy filling up his tank looks at your car, remembers a time when a car that looked exactly like that one sideswiped them in a parking lot, and for no good reason, says, “Nice piece of shit you got there.” So, as a consequence of them saying that, your reaction is to ask what the hell is their problem and telling them to fuck off. By your reasoning, Ms. Johanson is calling someone’s ride a piece of shit for no good reason when all they really wanted was to fill up and be on their way. Within this metaphor, this is you lauding the other person for being patient with the other person who had their car get called a pile of shit.

    And by the way, it isn’t about the sanctity of an RT score. The movie just got another rotten tomato, but I’m pretty sure nobody is flooding that reviewers site asking if it was written because they were currently having a bad life. It’s about bringing politics, albeit a particularly odious and aggressive brand of politics, into a forum where it doesn’t belong. Think I’m wrong? Go to a message board discussion for gun control and start posting messages about the plight of the turtle gopher in south Florida. Within two minutes, you’ll either get flamed as a spammer or a troll. The only difference with Ms. Johanson’s review is that she’s managed to take something inordinately minute to the macro level to create the illusion that her personal issues are relevant to the discussion of the film. It’s rather ironic that you would deem any discussion outside of those personal issues as being a “preferred narrative.”

    I’m a little confused by the next part of your rant. Male bias in film exists, but female bias in film does not exist? What would you call movies like ENOUGH, THE BRAVE ONE, NORTH COUNTRY, HARD CANDY, pretty much anything on Lifetime, or anytime you turn on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, or YAHOO? Where in Sam Hill is the feminist perspective missing in mainstream society? There isn’t a single corner of Western society that it hasn’t managed to lunch on. That you would call it missing from the mainstream speaks to a pretty serious disconnect on your part about what’s going on all around you.

    And “male cabal of critics?” Is there some sort of secret society involving hoods and burnt effigies nobody knows about, or is film review something that attracts more males than females? I’m pretty sure there isn’t an oppression task force that goes around gangstalking women who decide to become movie reviewers. This image concocted about men sitting around a cigar club with nothing better to do while twisting their mustache next to a doomsday machine is a rather immature outlook on life. It’s also probably the fastest way to become The Crazy Cat Lady.

    As far as people jumping to the conclusion about the feminist man-hating lesbian goes, I do have anecdotal evidence from a friend who once said that most of the lesbians in her classes at Berkley hated men, along with most of the women she’d come across at gay bars. That isn’t a reason for anyone to make an automatic connection between hate and lesbianism, but it’s not like that particular reference point has been dreamed out of nowhere, even if it can be a hastily drawn conclusion.

    Personally, I don’t care whether or not Ms. Johanson is a lesbian, but it’s fairly safe to say, based on a decent sampling of comments and a repeating trend with her reviews, that she hates men and is willing to demonize them to the point of distraction. To be honest, I’m sorry it’s happened to her, and more so that the end result of that resulted in the adoption of an ideology that tries to seduce its victims like some drunk asshole at the bar.

    “Thank goodness too for your group of smart, articulate regular commenters here.” ….I’m guessing this would be you. And to that I also say thank goodness.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Are you sure you believe what you’re saying, or are you just looking to trigger an emotional response that you can call me out on? I would challenge you to find anything that could be construed as emotional content (i.e your’e an idiot, you feminists are a bunch of nuts, etc. etc). You won’t because it isn’t there. But to say my response “lacks objectivity” or is “excessively emotional” without qualifying it just isn’t good enough, because a statement made without any kind of qualification is nothing more than a boring ad homonym attack.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Actually, I think the RT score is a flawed rating because 70 percent out of 100 would be a C-minus on a school exam. But thanks for the weirdo compliment. Quite proud to call myself different.

  • LaSargenta

    Of course I believe what I wrote; that’s why I wrote it. What I wrote isn’t ad hominem as I made no comment on you but what you wrote. QA/QC’ing your work is not on my to do list — and something tells me you are more than capable of reading your work with a critical eye.

    10-7

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Okay, so we’ve narrowed it down to that you believe what you’re saying, and that my response “lacks objectivity” and is “excessively emotional.” But again, if you can’t qualify a statement, and you don’t consider it an ad homonym attack, then it is at the very least, a flabby thesis that lacks enough substance to prove its accuracy. Saying that Q&Aing my comments is “not on your to-do list” seems pretty meek considering the fact that you responded in the first place.

    In any case, you then say it’s not an ad homonym attack because you didn’t comment not on ME, but rather what I wrote. But for the record, it WAS an ad homonym attack, because the part I didn’t include was your previous response in which you called me “weirdo,” and also implied that I can’t control myself (with words). That would be writing about the nature of me, which to be honest, isn’t even grounded in anything provable based solely on what I wrote.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Rotten Tomato “scores” don’t work like grades on an exam. The way Rotten Tomatoes works, 300 “Tomato Meter” reviewers could all write reviews of a film that amounted, “Meh, it’s not bad”, and as long as every one of those 300 marked that review as “Fresh”, the movie would have a perfect 100% RT score, making it the best reviewed film of the year.

    You’re not different, Mikey. The world is (sadly) full of people just like you.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    No, they don’t work like grades, but because you only have the option of assigning two ratings (fresh or rotten) rather than a greater rating degree like 1-4 stars, you wind up with likewarm fresh reviews being no different than glowing reviews, or not completely terrible bad reviews that are no different than truly panned reviews. That is an inaccurate rating system that doesn’t provide a qualitative analysis.

    Since you’ve taken to liberty to call me “Mikey,” can I call you “Celebrity Scientist with a Booking Agent?”

    People just like me, huh. Well, this is all very bad news…for the world, I mean.

  • Objectivity isn’t a matter of perspective.

    Er, yes, exactly.

    when you review a movie that executes almost all of its major story elements to perfection

    And you think *this* is “objective”?

    the most meaningless strand

    And *this* is “objective?

    an objective view of feminism might be to recognize that women haven’t had it easy in the world, but to admit that no one else has either, and that it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, or that it can be attributed to one particular reason.

    And now I know that I do not need to take you seriously.

  • I’m pretty sure there isn’t an oppression task force that goes around gangstalking women who decide to become movie reviewers.

    Your strawmen are wonderful. Please, enlighten us some more about how feminism isn’t needed.

    I do have anecdotal evidence from a friend

    You truly are a treat.

    it’s fairly safe to say, based on a decent sampling of comments and a repeating trend with her reviews, that she hates men and is willing to demonize them to the point of distraction

    Also: “hating” and “demonization” clearly have different definitions in your world.

  • Jesus, enough of this. Stop cluttering up my comments section with this nonsense.

  • Maybe you should stop paying so much attention to Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    And yet, you yourself cited that MaryAnn’s negative review of “It Follows” lowered it’s RT score below 100%, as though that were somehow significant. Odd. You’re a confused guy.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh gawd, you’re one of those. The kind of dude who thinks that “liberals”, a person who exists in your formulation only in your mind, is somehow barred from ever criticizing anything, ever, just because you don’t understand what the word “tolerance” means. Lovely.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    One post, and you upvoted yourself. You’re the best.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    And I would be confused for what reason? I said the RT system has no QUALITATIVE value (i.e the quality of each individual rating). The RT system is only “significant” in its QUANTITATIVE value (i.e the number of “good” vs. “bad” reviews). The fact that Ms. Johanson was personally responsible for breaking up a perfect quantitative rating TWICE for the exact same reason – a ridiculous feminist gripe when there was absolutely NONE to be had, undermines the RT rating systems quantitative value, which is its only relevant scoring value.

    So in actuality, the fact that two reviews based entirely on some misogynist invention were allowed to count into the ratings dovetails straight into my concerns that Rottentomatoes has a very problematic rating system. Because if the qualitative value of the score contains a misleading value, and the quantitative value can be hijacked as seen here, what good is it going forward?

  • Michael Cavallaro

    You don’t appreciate people posting contrarian opinions on your site, yet continue posting contrarian reviews on RT? Okay.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    This is why I’ve said you can’t convince a feminist of anything. What exactly is subjective about determining whether major story elements can be executed to perfection? The major story elements in a film are as follows: the inciting event which brings a first hint of the opposing force, the first plot point introducing the major dramatic question, the midpoint which creates a new vibe in the story, the penultimate climax which put the protagonist into a flight or fight scenario, and the climax, which brings a final resolution to the problem. By virtually most counts, all of these story elements in The Gift have been executed with far greater dexterity than 99.9% of today’s films. Rather than weigh the major story elements, you chose to bypass all of this and review the film on some sort of barely implied subjective subtext about gender relationships.

    If your review is based entirely on something that isn’t important to the story, then it’s most certainly a meaningless strand.

    Yes, I would call it objective to say most people along with women have not had it easy in the world. I’m sorry if looking more broadly at the world isn’t something you’ve agreed to do in life, but it’s actually a bit weird that you wouldn’t find this point to be objective.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Is this what you consider to be a serious response, or is there something more here besides, “I’m rubber, your glue?”

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Sarcasm is a rather poor substitute for an actual debate, my friend, and so is projecting yourself into someone’s head as an childish mimicry to denote some sort of rebuke. I haven’t asked anyone to “conform” to anything.

  • I would suggest to Disqus that they disallow self-upvoting, but it’s such great way to weed out the ones you can ignore.

  • a ridiculous feminist gripe when there was absolutely NONE to be had,

    You really do need to look into the definition of “objective.”

  • Contrarian opinions are fine. Arguing about arguing is not.

  • You refuse to understand the difference between subjective fact and objective opinion. I am done discussing this.

  • BraveGamgee

    Michael, it was never my intent to enter into debate with anyone. Simply to lighten the mood. I agree that projecting yourself into someone’s head as a childish mimicry is hardly the stuff of weighty argument, but I will also throw this out there: What I wrote is how I used to think, and I write in mockery of myself. I never said you asked anyone to conform

  • Tonio Kruger

    The name of the last movie you mentioned is Marley & Me and the fact that you managed to misspell such an easy name doesn’t exactly encourage me to take your “review” seriously.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You obviously haven’t spent much time on John Nolte’s Big Hollywood site. Or the Steve Saylor site. Or the Michael Medved site. Or any of the Yahoo message boards devoted to new movies…

    Then again few of Nolte’s, Medved’s or Saylor’s readers object to their interjecting politics into a movie review so why does MaryAnn Johanson seem to be so objectionable in this regard?

  • Tonio Kruger

    It was a tough job but someone had to do it. :-)

  • Danielm80

    The spelling error is the least troublesome thing about that sentence.

  • leah

    Thanks for the reply. It’s depressing that this is still even an issue, but perhaps change can be achieved, and your work can be a part of that revolution! (I feel like the film industry is sliding mostly backwards in terms of the representation of girls/women – behind the camera as writers and directors mainstream cinema is worse than ever in this regard – under the current paradigm. I’m trying to stay optimistic but it’s a chore sometimes.)
    At least people such as yourself are talking about it, putting it out there and shining a light on the issue. I really feel for you attempting to reason with people like the ignorant commenter in this thread – it’s stunning just how invested and comfortable these people are in their blinkered delusion, insidious sexism, inane talking points and inability to listen or reason, it’s like they all come from the same factory or something, so bizarre. Your patience in dealing with it is admirable. :-)

  • I’m injecting the wrong kind of politics.

  • In the book, Marley gets addicted to heroin and ends up selling a kidney. It’s not pretty.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    I’d look up the word, but I don’t have a feminist dictionary.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Having seen the film, I’ll make few final points (for good, I promise). First of all, turning the tables around (i.e. “you refuse to understand”) isn’t a sound argument for an actual response to what I’ve presented here, and neither is cherry picking on words like “perfection,” or repetitiously reiterating a definition which you have not even bothered to provide nor weigh your review against. If you’re going to simply accuse someone of doing what YOU are actually doing, then you’re just giving yourself a pass on having to answer the charges made against your review.

    To objectively determine how well a story completes its mission, you have to examine what it’s being asked to do and determine whether or not it’s done that. Does the spine of action creates progressive complications that go from minor, to moderate, to major through each Act? Yes it does? Does the gap between expectation and reality spring open on the characters more than a few times? Yes it does. Not only does the Gift hit all the major story elements, it actually does something that few psychological thrillers manage to accomplish: it blurs the line between who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. Only the most skilled movies provide a measure in which the audience has to recalibrate every its’ scene when new reveals arise.

    Moreover, it shuffles it’s clues out of order, provides a red herring that the audience doesn’t see coming, and it satisfies the necessity for the antagonist to execute the perfect crime against his victim. Hell, it even uses the monkey as an image system. All these things are what smart thrillers do. So when you cherry pick the word “perfection,” what your really cherry picking is the malformed belief that I think it’s impossible for anyone to like this movie. No, what I’m saying is that according to the principles of storytelling, The Gift manages to do what a psychological thriller promises according to its subgenre, which is generate curiousity play against expectation of what will occur, keep the audience guessing, and create a final resolution that irreversibly changes the story value for the protagonist by moving him from an ordinary guy to a victim at the end.

    NONE OF THIS has been examined in your review.

  • There is no different feminist meaning of “objective.”

    If you are not able to converse in an adult manner, you can leave.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Of course there’s a different meaning. if the ACTIONS of a movement defies its mission statement, then the movement is operating by a different meaning. And c’mon, hauling a baseless claim that I’m not being an adult in this conversation? At least find one that’s actually true.

  • Danielm80

    A movie is not a high-school report. It doesn’t get a good grade just for fulfilling the basic requirements. No matter how carefully it follows the three-act structure, it can still be a lousy movie. A reviewer judges a film based on how entertaining it is, how thought-provoking it is, how moving or funny or surprising it is, and all sorts of other, very personal criteria. Not everyone is moved or surprised by the same things. All of those things are a matter of opinion, and no two people will react the same way to the same movie.

    I shouldn’t have to explain any of this to you. It should be obvious. But then, I shouldn’t have to explain that your personal opinion is not the baseline standard for how other people feel about a movie. Your personal opinion is your personal opinion. Or to put it another way: It’s not objective.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    You either didn’t read my explanation or you don’t want to hear it because I explained how it went way beyond the basic story elements. The basic story elements are the major points that hold the story together. The film transcends the basic story elements by blurring the line between the protagonist and antagonist (i.e. your point about it needing to be “thought provoking”), which provides the basis for understanding that the world and the people in it are not so easily compartmentalized, and that and it uses false function as a setup to payoff. There is NOTHING basic about this technique because it’s very difficult to do in a way that gives the audience that “ah-ha” moment.

  • Danielm80

    And that explains why you like the movie. It doesn’t mean anyone else has to agree with you–even if the film has a high score on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    For the hundredth time, I’m not asking anyone to like the movie. I’m giving you an explanation for what constitutes an objective critique of what a film is asked to do in its subgenre, and what it accomplishes.

  • MrMovieDude

    What are you even talking about at this point ??

    Rebecca Hall is the central character of this story and she is the most honest, likeable and sympathetic character in the whole movie. Your critiques about her treatment in the film is simply laughable. The two main male characters in the film are beyond awful and the fact that she gets caught in the middle of such an disturbing finale is in no way offensive to her character or her gender.

  • MrMovieDude

    What are you talking about ? I wont be changing anything.

  • LaSargenta

    That description reads like something I’d like even less than what I saw in the trailers. That basic recipe for a ‘thriller’ is missing something extremely fundamental to any story in my eyes: engaging characters who behave fundamentally realistically (no matter how unrealistic the story).

    Your description of an ‘objective’ review is extremely dry and does not tell me what I would like to know about a movie. If I don’t get a good vibe from a trailer, I can still be convinced to consider something if it has well-drawn characters.

  • LaSargenta

    There is no such thing as an objective review.

  • But it’s not just the two men who treat her badly. The movie does too.

  • MrMovieDude

    By making her intelligent, honest, good intentioned and smart enough to uncover the dark secrets about her husband ???

    I really don’t understand your objections to her or any female in this film.

  • By treating her like a pawn. (Note that this is different from the men in the story treating her like a pawn.) There is a long tradition of movies in which women are placed in peril, and this one ultimately keeps it a secret *from her* how she is being abused. (And I’ll deal with how stupid that is in another post soon about the ending of the movie.) She can’t even fight back from that.

  • Anonymous

    Read review by Christi puchko…
    Excellent… Just like yours…
    Thank god…
    Disgusting end….

  • Anonymous

    Sorry it is Kristy puchko review… Really good…
    CBR.com

  • Elizabeth Black

    I’m confused. I figured you’d bow to my demands since you expect others to bow to yours.

  • leah

    Having seen the movie now I understand MaryAnn’s review and agree with much of it —
    jts MA I hope you do write another post specifically about the end because it’s such a tired, clichéd trope, used in an especially galling way in The Gift; it’s hard to believe Edgerton didn’t know what he was writing is just trite, sexist, and stupid, how can anyone still be rolling with this bs and think it’s good storytelling – AND he’s getting critical praise for it, kind of makes me want to vomit —————– POSSIBLE SPOILERS——————————- it seems some people still don’t see the problem with using the abuse of female characters to show how it makes a man feel/effects his character with not the slightest concern or exploration of how it effects the woman to whom it actually happens, one of the worst, most sexist clichés in all of film writing and yet used so often, really disheartening.

  • Ronny R

    Just wanted to say Thanks-I read your review First, waited for the movie to come out so that I could read more including audience reviews & I get it-I Don’t Want To See It. Again Thanks for seeing what they obviously can’t see or comprehend.

  • Anonymous

    Yes… The saddest thing is EVERYONE is raving about this disgusting ending and giving critical acclaim and credit to this abusive man edger ton!!!

  • JustGreg

    Curious to read your thoughts on other films using women as pawns in the games men (and, at times, women) play – films such as Seven, The Hitcher, Dangerous Liasons and Rosemary’s Baby, to name just a few. Were those films done effectively for you or just as off-putting?

    In this one, I rolled my eyes at how inviting Robyn was at the beginning to Gordo when he came into their lives and home in such a creepy manner but of course I remained in my seat to see how it would all play out. I agree with one reviewer that it worked as a second-rate thriller, worked in a b-movie sort of way. I don’t, however, smell Oscar with this one.

  • MrMovieDude

    The Gordo character uses her as a pawn of course, the movie however revolves around her and her discoveries. The ending is your typical thriller ending and your objection to it being silly might be justified but to suggest it’s degrading to women is reaching pretty far.

  • Danielm80

    If you’re expecting MaryAnn to review four different movies and conduct a comparative analysis, you might consider sending her a donation. She barely has the time (or money) to keep up with all the current releases.

  • JustGreg

    If you re-read my comment you’ll see that I used the words “such as…” and it was a comment directed at MaryAnn’s take on the woman as pawn in film.

    I’m new to this site and no, I wasn’t, nor am I in a place to, giving her any sort of assignment. I also did not realize that she has a handler. Next time I’ll go through you. My apologies.

  • I judge every movie individually. But even if this trope occasionally appears in a movie that is overall quite good — though none come immediately to mind — that doesn’t mean that the trope isn’t problematic, *particularly* when the overall representation of women is so deplorable. If women had better representation on the whole, this might be less of a problem.

  • I suggest you read my extended rant on the ending if you need further explanation on my objections.

    None of which, by the way, are that it’s “silly.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t used anything like that word in relation to this film.

  • And I don’t accept assignments (though maybe I should set up a way for that to happen). But support for my work is always appreciated.

    There’s certainly already tons of material on this site that discusses women’s representation on film, so you’ve got lots of reading available to you if you want to know more of what I think.

  • Shiraz

    Feminism has “worldview bias?” WTF? That would imply women and their viewpoint infects everything and counts as majority. Like, where is this happening, duder?
    Most films are about men from a male viewpoint. That’s not a radical viewpoint — that’s reality.
    What about sexism? It’s a world-wide biased that infects everything. Fact. Read history. Read current news. Why doesn’t that bother you?
    Is patriarchy objective? I didn’t realize (snark). Oh wait, you don’t know the difference between objective and subjective. If a demo group starts talking from their own perspective, it’s suddenly not objective enough because it doesn’t cater to your demographic. Uh-huh. That’s called Othering. You can read all about it on the internet.
    Calling a stereotype an archetype doesn’t legitimize a stereotype.
    Feminism isn’t objective? What a fucking stupid thing to say. Is civil rights objective? Is gay rights objective? By what standard are you using the word “objective?”
    If someone/something makes you uncomfortable because it forces you to examine your privilege — or the material reality of a minority, do you always accuse that minority as not being objective enough? WTF?
    Yeah, it’s a good attempt to shut the conversation down, except we all really know it what it means, namely — “Shut up, minority. This conversation is making me uncomfortable.”
    Yeah. Loser.

  • I think “That’s not objective!” is properly translated to “That makes me uncomfortable and I don’t want to think about it!”

  • leah

    It is disappointing that critics seem weirdly blind to the movie’s serious shortcomings for some reason, I can’t fathom it; I wouldn’t like to assume that Edgerton as a person is abusive but rather just misguided and conditioned by entrenched sexist tropes that permeate his poor film writing.

  • leah

    I think ‘Michael Cavellaro’ (and his ilk) genuinely don’t get that the male bias that permeates culture and caters to his world view in so many ways isn’t ‘the norm’; that his perspective, reinforced by patriarchal culture designed to enshrine the male as ‘universal’ and the female as ‘other’, isn’t ‘objective’; what irony that he accuses others of lacking the ability to see things objectively when he’s the one blind to the entrenched bias to which he is indoctrinated.

  • RoupenAgnerian

    Yup, Feminisim is a pretty tiny niche. She’s gotta be crazy to be so devoted to a social movement that like, nobody cares about. Or maybe just irrational. Obviously.

  • STUN_Runner

    Gordo was standing nearby when Simon stated aloud the home address when arranging for delivery of the merchandise from the store. He could have overheard and quickly committed it to memory.

  • It’s not a mystery how Gordon learned where they live. But it *is* creepy and stalkerish.

  • STUN_Runner

    It was treated like a mystery in the film, Simon seeing the bottle of wine on the kitchen table and wondering aloud how Gordo could’ve obtained their address, but when Simon said their address aloud to the clerk in the previous scene, I leaned over and whispered to my wife next to me, “Whoops, now the guy knows where they live…”

    It seemed in your review like you didn’t notice that, because you wrote this:

    “…Gordo shows up at the house without invitation (and clearly having obtained the address in some nefarious way, because they didn’t give it to him)…”

  • What I wrote was an expression of their reaction to his turning up. Perhaps I could have phrased it better.

  • STUN_Runner

    Eh, maybe.
    I was pretty disgusted with the ending, too. Couldn’t figure out why so many critics were heaping praise on the film.
    Those jump-scares were cheap, weren’t they? Like, BOO! Ha ha, it’s the dog. Then, BOO! Ha ha, just kidding, it was a dream. Yeah, okay.

  • MidxMidwest

    Ok, finally got around to watching this. Even from a feminist POV, your position doesn’t work. So I was wrong in that respect.

    Hall was the only actor who had an arc in the film, who grew from a bullied, drug-dependent wallflower to a woman who decided to take control of her own life and kick her husband to the curb at the very moment when many women would be desperate for the support structure a marriage (any marriage) provides. Plus, the reveal at the end was intended to show that both men in her life were awful, horrible people–nobody was cheering on Simon’s nor Gordon’s actions. Woman = good, able to grow from weak to strong, strong moral compass. Men = bad, stuck in ultimately self-destructive patterns, deceptive, manipulative, no (or broken) moral compass. This is paint-by-numbers old-school feminist film. And a solid, dark psychological thriller.

  • Danielm80

    If you think that “old-school” feminism was about putting women on pedestals and treating men as cartoon villains, you went to the wrong school.

  • MidxMidwest

    Hall’s character was on no pedestal. In fact, I think that’s one of the Catch 22’s with modern feminism–make a woman perfect and she’s setting an unrealistic image, but make her flawed and the filmmakers are anti-women.

    But if you do an honest assessment of her role as a woman vs. Bateman’s and Edgerton’s roles as men, this is clearly a pro-woman film. The fact that the two male leads abuse her in their own horrible ways takes nothing away from that.

  • Probably no one is cheering on Gordo or Simon. But the final shot of the film, on the devastated Simon, is clearly intended for us to empathize with him. Robyn is completely forgotten at the end.

  • but make her flawed and the filmmakers are anti-women.

    Citation needed.

  • BraveGamgee

    I would suggest looking at MaryAnn’s review of Trainwreck. I don’t think she’s ever called a movie anti-woman for having flawed female characters

  • silvereyes1945

    The stupidity of some men to think that the sexual assault/women as a pawn theme shouldn’t be discussed is unbelievable. Imagine if the Robyn and Gordo characters decided to have a consensual affair to get back at Simon for his mistreatment of them, and decide not to tell him he may not be the baby’s biological father. Imagine if Gordo put on a monkey mask, drugged Simon, and sexually assaulted him so he could upload it to Youtube to make Simon suffer through false gay rumors like Gordo did. The response from these brain dead guys would be one of outrage, and they would be whining if feminists didn’t review the movie the same way they did.

  • Imagine if Gordo put on a monkey mask, drugged Simon, and sexually assaulted him

    Or — more in keeping with the way it works out here — made it look as if it were ambiguous whether Gordo assaulted Simon or not. It would be a more appropriate revenge, if this is supposed to be a revenge story. (It would probably still be a repulsive film, though.)

  • I am asking this sincerely: if every review of hers you read is a perspective you don’t find interesting, why do you keep coming back? There are plenty of reviewers who are perfectly happy to ignore the ways in which women are treated and depicted in film. Why don’t you go read them, and leave MAJ for those of us who find her perspective interesting?

  • Robert Williams

    Completely agree. Was shocked to see that this movie got so many favorable reviews. We really are still living in medieval times when it comes to considering women as genuine people as opposed to property or pawns for men’s immature and egomaniacal mind-games with each other… Joel Edgarton used to be a favorite of mine but now I am seriously creeped out by HIM… Not due to any acting prowess but on account of him ever wanting to be associated with this movie! Truly disgusting and awful!!!

  • Sean Saffari

    Just finished the film and I really adored it. Great review, but I couldn’t help but feel like if Joel Edgerton was a woman and made the same film, the husband (instead of wife) character would be the same, because it’s more about them being neutral to a messed up situation in the past that’s all of a sudden in their face, than being a symbolic chess piece in two men’s “game”. As someone who was bullied terribly growing up and then turned into somewhat of a bully before waking the hell up, it was a really troubling watch. I felt for both sides, but mainly for the wife, who was just being decent. It was hinted at that she was very successful in the past and it seems like at the end of the film, she’d be going back to that life without the excess baggage. All the contradictions just felt human to me. When a fork presents itself in the road, you take it. That’s how all the character’s contradictions felt to me. Either way, your review was a good read, I just don’t see this film as having an agenda against women, even if the final act of retribution is really, really gender-specific and troubling. Too far? Of course. Unfortunately though, it felt all too authentic in a toxically human way for me to shrug off the entire film as being an exercise in emotional half-measures and misogyny.

  • alasia min

    Wow you sound like prepubscent highschool freshman brat

  • alasia min

    No it’s not. I lost all sympathy for gordo when it was suggested that he may have raped Rebecca Hall’s character. Raping an innocent person to get revenge on someone else is disgusting and the idea that he might of done it while she’s unconscious is even worse. But of course humans only understand things when it involves personally. I guarantee you that you you saw a video of a strange man hovering over your son, daughter or significant other while they were unconscious and it was implied that they were raped because someone wanted to get revenge on you, you would be disgusted.

  • Let’s not descend to his level.

  • bks67

    And in case anyone decides Gordo may deserve the benefit of the doubt (since the rape is far from a certainty), he almost certainly drugged her, and (to make it even worse) the movie’s logic asks us to accept that Rebecca Hall’s character would have no idea that happened. This despite the fact she’s had past experience with drugs and was currently using less powerful ones.

    Totally ruined the movie for me, just as Ex Machina was ruined by its misogyny, just as A History of Violence was similarly ruined by patently untenable behavior from the female lead.

  • bks67

    The film’s presentation of the lead character is so jarring to anyone who regards adult females as actual adults, that the plot is irremediably marred by it. That is the point. The film fails as a piece of art because of that failure.

    “Objective” doesn’t exist. Every single artistic product has overt political dimensions, and pointing them out does not make someone problematically biased or subjective. It’s what a critical analyst does.

    Not pointing out flaws, or believing that films don’t have political aspects, is the product of hegemony. Congratulations: you’re a victim of it.

    Sorry you don’t understand that.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Quite possibly the single biggest garbage response I received here. The lead character is NOT ONCE treats his wife as anything but adult. Not once. To say the story is dragged down by your personal dislike of a character’s qualities is nothing more than a projection of your ideological beliefs, the likes of which have no business being injected. Somehow it’s lost on you that this guy was a bully to his high school classmate, but some dreamed up misogyny toward his wife becomes the entire focal point of the entire film? Yeah, ok.

    Actually, objective does exist, and I explained this in several other threads. If you understand the principles of story design, and a film meets all of those principles, then it is objective to say a film has succeeded in executing a well told story. The job of the critical analyst is to know those principles, and if she doesn’t, then she’s just giving a subjective opinion. And if that subjective opinion then falls in direct contradiction to the OBJECTIVE principles of story design, and then reveals itself as factually incorrect to what actually occurred in the movie, that is the point at which an opinion becomes a pathetic display of pure bias. And a pathetic display of pure bias has no business being registered on rottentomatoes or any other website where people are looking for quality reviews.

    It’s bad enough that you don’t understand this, but to then be so completely melodramatic as to congratulate someone for being a “victim of hegemony,” that’s you acting out some form of Manchurian Candidate style social engineering.

    When a “critical analyst” injects their own “political dimensions” into a story and her complaints simply do not exist, then “a critical analyst” ceases to actually be one.

    And by the way, this conversation occurred, what, two months ago? I already explained in specific detail in several other threads why this review was more of the same feminist horseshit inventing a misogynist boogyman. So please don’t waste any more of my time with this and find a more current conversation to troll.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    LOL, every single comment I’ve made about this film has been backed by the principles of story design. Find me a comment where yours is backed by those principles and we’ll see who’s indoctrinated.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Quite possibly the single biggest garbage response I received here. The lead character NOT ONCE treats his wife as anything but adult. Not once. To say the story is dragged down by your personal dislike of a character’s qualities is nothing more than a projection of your ideological beliefs, the likes of which have no business being injected. Somehow it’s lost on you that this guy was a bully to his high school classmate, but some dreamed up misogyny toward his wife becomes the focal point of the entire film? Yeah, ok.

    Actually, objective does exist, and I explained this in several other threads. If you understand the principles of story design, and a film meets all of those principles, then it is objective to say a film has succeeded in executing a well told story. The job of the critical analyst is to know those principles, and if she doesn’t, then she’s just giving a subjective opinion. And if that subjective opinion then falls in direct contradiction to the OBJECTIVE principles of story design, and then reveals itself as factually incorrect to what actually occurred in the movie, that is the point at which an opinion becomes a pathetic display of pure bias. And a pathetic display of pure bias has no business being registered on rottentomatoes or any other website where people are looking for quality reviews.

    It’s bad enough that you don’t understand this, but to then be so completely melodramatic as to congratulate someone for being a “victim of hegemony,” that’s you acting out some form of Manchurian Candidate style social engineering.

    When a “critical analyst” injects their own “political dimensions” into a story and her complaints simply do not exist, then “a critical analyst” ceases to actually be one.

    And by the way, this conversation occurred, what, two months ago? I already explained in specific detail in several other threads why this review was more of the same feminist garbage inventing a misogynist boogyman. So please don’t waste any more of my time with this and find a more current conversation to troll.

  • bks67

    Against my better judgment:

    If you want to applaud technical achievement as an end it itself, go ahead. But no movie is great merely because of its success in conforming to the norms of plot development or even in expanding the possibilities for story design (this movie did neither.)

    I wouldn’t have a problem with anyone who said The Gift was an effective thriller for most of the film. But when it devolved into presenting its central character in stereotypical and offensive ways, and upended the expectations of the audience to that point in a way that was trite, gimmicky, and politically repulsive, the film became more difficult to enjoy and a considerably smaller achievement. Its central female character gets recast an easily gulled, life support system for a womb, just like so many lead female characters in thrillers and other genres of film. It’s extremely trite, insulting to the viewer, and a large mark against the film.

    The point about objectivity is not that there are no technical principles of story design (who would ever argue that?). The point is: there no objectivity in the assessment of movies, with respect to BOTH its technical and political elements. Again, if you don’t get that I doubt I’ll be able to help you out.

    Even among persons who agree that there are principles of good storytelling and what those principles are, there may be considerable disagreement about whether a film actually instantiated them well. I thought The Gift was doing pretty OK myself for much of the film (more careful viewers may disagree and have argued they saw signs the film was headed into schlock territory earlier than I did). But the jarring turn of events that plays both the audience and the central characters for fools was too much to bear. You clearly overvalue the ambiguities the film tries to create and exploit, and have too little to say about its retreat into threadbare tropes by the film’s end.

    Second, no film comes into being without political messages embedded in it, though what they are and how they impact the experience of the film is also very open to interpretation (if it’s a rich film, of course). You make the fatal error of assuming “feminism” is some gloss on an otherwise non-ideological reality into which the film is inserted. That’s a very immature way of understanding the production of cultural products of all kinds, films included.

    You have an ideology too, bro. It’s pretty well developed here. It’s consistent with (if not as vile as) those of the GamerGate crew who think the fundamental assumptions to which they hold are natural and unassailable, instead of what they really are which is the product of an ideological environment which works really, really well to make them seem natural and unassailable. The upshot of this (in the GamerGate case) is that when those assumption get challenged (by feminists for instance), the ‘assailants’ get turned into monsters and are treated as such. That’s what you’re verging on with your discussion of “feminism.” You seem very unaware of how your attitudes toward it have been shaped by a culture hostile to it, and eager to deform its basic tenets in its criticism of it.

    Others have analyzed the problematic elements of the film. You accused me of getting facts wrong, but offered no explanation. If and when you do, I’ll gladly respond fairly and be glad to offer a more in-depth analysis of the film’s unraveling.

  • Danielm80

    Your response was exceptionally thorough, well-written, and well-thought-out. When he replies (and he almost certainly will), please, please do us all a favor and don’t continue the conversation. It’s already gone on way too long.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Since you’ve managed to tone down your response, I’ll do the
    same. But I’m going to say this: I’m absolutely NOT interested in having a
    continued conversation about this. Why you decided to jump into this
    conversation three months after is something I find to be extremely annoying,
    because it’s a waste of time that went nowhere with people who projected feminist
    ideology into a movie where it didn’t exist, and I suspect it will go nowhere
    with you. Plus you’re asking me to remember a movie I saw in August, so part of
    this will have to be a rehash of what I wrote.

    You say no movie is great because it conforms to the norms of
    plot development, except what you’re referring to are mere plot points that
    have to be present in order to tell a complete story, and that is NOT what I’m
    referring to.

    It’s skilled because does something that is VERY difficult to
    do: it blurs the line between who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist.
    That isn’t just conforming to plot point norms. That’s an achievement very few
    psychological thrillers have ever managed to accomplish.

    From your perspective, the film upended the audience
    expectations by “devolving the character in stereotypical and offensive ways,
    to a point that was trite, gimmicky and politically repulsive,” and the wife
    was an “easily gulled life support system for the womb.”

    Except the wife being cast as the histrionic, irrational
    housewife isn’t even something I can call accurate because she works from home,
    actively takes steps to investigate the problem, and the implication that she’s
    a pill popper is there to provide a false function in the story. The audience
    THINKS she’s swallowed pills and passes out, but the reveal later shows that
    she was drugged. Without her history as a pill popper offered in the
    exposition, the notion that she was drugged would have become OBVIOUS to the
    audience and they would have more easily guessed the ending. So what you see as
    a misogynist strand is actually a vital component in setup to payoff. Just as
    what you view as character “devolving into stereotypical, offensive ways” is
    actual the slow reveal of character and the blurring of the line between
    protagonist and antagonist.

    And honestly, “life support system for the womb.” Nobody except
    a feminist would ever talk like that. Just like nobody except a feminist would
    use made up baby talk terms like “heteronormativity” and “feminicide.”

    You’ve also made these statement without even being able to
    qualify them. HOW does the character become offensive specifically to feminism?
    There’s no example of him treating the wife like a child, no example of him
    treating her like an object, no example of him treating her with disrespect or
    violence. Quite honestly, I’m amazed he did none of these things because it
    would have been in the character’s nature to control situations. If he bullied
    Gordo, it would have made sense that he would be a bully to his wife. Except
    this is where the story plays AGAINST convention. Convention would have made
    him consistenly a bully to all people in all situations, but instead, because
    it wants eventually make the protagonist the antagonist, it resists the urge to
    do so. Even when the central character’s poor qualities surface, he STILL doesn’t
    manage to violate the relationship with his wife.

    But a feminist, looking for anything to cherry pick, sees none
    of these principles which have been layered into the story, and sees only an
    over-controlling bully who must therefore be a misogynist. This claim is completely
    invented in this story.

    And where did you come up with this idea that the character is POLITICALLY
    repulsive? Where do politics enter this story? Is there some hot button issue he
    goes off on? I don’t think so.

    In terms of the plot, does the spine of action create
    progressive complications that go from minor, to moderate, to major through
    each act? Yes it does. Do the protagonists react off the antagonists actions
    and take minimum conservative actions before being pushed to more drastic
    measures? Yes, they do. Does the gap between expectation and reality spring
    open on the characters more than a few times? Yes it does. Does it force the
    audience to recalibrate everything it has seen when new reveals arise? Yes it
    does.

    So tell me where there can be no objectivity in the assessment
    of movies? For someone who claims I don’t get something, you sure missed a lot
    in this two hour film.

    Not only that, but the movie
    keeps the audience guessing by shuffling its clues out of order, provides a red
    herring that the audience doesn’t see coming (the second guy Bateman bullied),
    and it satisfies the necessity for the antagonist to execute the perfect crime
    against his victim. Hell, it even uses the monkey as an image system. All these
    things are what smart thrillers do. So to call any of it gimmicky would be in
    complete lack of understanding of what goes into keeping the audience guessing,
    and it just ignores the results, all of which I’ve mentioned here. Your best
    response to this seems to have just been another unqualified statement about “overvaluing
    threadbare tropes by the films end.”

    If there were anything political about this movie, we would have
    to look into the movie’s THEME to identify it. Okay, so what is the movie’s
    theme?

    The main theme of the story occurs when Gordo says, “See
    how easily people can be poisoned by ideas?” In other words, poisoning the
    perception of other people. Gordo’s life was ruined by the perception of
    others, and now he returned the favor by poisoning the perception of his child.
    NOWHERE in this theme is there a political statement. No statement that’s
    anti-feminist, no statement that’s ideologically divisive. Just a simple theme
    that reiterates a phenomenon that often occurs in ordinary life between people.

    You then say, “You make the fatal error of assuming
    “feminism” is some gloss on an otherwise non-ideological reality into
    which the film is inserted. That’s a very immature way of understanding the
    production of cultural products of all kinds, films included.”

    There’s no fatal error because the second part of your statement
    is an assumption based on contradictory evidence. I’ll make an easy prediction
    by saying you won’t see how I’ve demonstrated that The Gift is completely absent
    of anti-feminist sentiment and that you will continue to insist on it, but the
    fact is, I’ve offered a very specific argument while you’ve just made
    unqualified statements. If anything, it’s immature to assume I’m not aware of
    Hollywood’s effort to politicize entertainment. I’m more than aware of it. It’s
    just rather ironic that you would not apply this to how that’s caused you to
    view The Gift as being offensive to feminist ideology.

    And that’s neither here nor there. The main problem with the
    movie is not the movie; it’s the review. The Gift manages to do what a
    psychological thriller promises according to its subgenre, which is generate
    curiosity and concern, play against the expectation of what will occur, keep
    the audience guessing, and create a final resolution that irreversibly changes
    the story value for the protagonist by moving him from an ordinary guy to a
    victim at the end. NONE OF THIS was examined in this review. And that’s why it’s
    based purely on subjective bias rather than the principles of story.

    My ideology consists of rejecting
    all forms of ideology designed to control mass consciousness. If you’d like to
    call that ideology, go ahead. I won’t contest it. But saying that ideology is “consistent”
    with Gamergate is really nothing more than a subtle attempt to link me to them.
    Saying I’m on the verge of turning into a monster when I’m “challenged” is just
    more melodrama on your part.

    But if gamers don’t like Anita Sarkeesian, it’s probably be
    because they’re a bunchy of nerds who just want to go on living their lives as
    nerds and aren’t interested in being attacked by a movement that is going
    around looking under every rock for things that it can control.

    As for the offering your “in depth analysis,” do I have an
    option of passing on that? Because I’m really not interested.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Just letting you know that my second response to you was deleted by the so-called philosopher, providing more indication that a free exchange of ideas are not allowed by the very movement you support. I knew she would do this and there for saved the comment. Will try to repost, but can’t guarantee that democracy will prevail.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    My deleted response:

    Since you’ve managed to tone down your response, I’ll do the same. But I’m going to say this: I’m absolutely NOT interested in having a continued conversation about this. Why you decided to jump into this conversation three months after is something I find to be extremely annoying, because it’s a waste of time that went nowhere with people who projected feminist ideology into a movie where it didn’t exist, and I suspect it will go nowhere with you. Plus you’re asking me to remember a movie I saw in August, so part of this will have to be a rehash of what I wrote.

    You say no movie is great because it conforms to the norms of plot development, except what you’re referring to are mere plot points that
    have to be present in order to tell a complete story, and that is NOT what I’m referring to.

    It’s skilled because does something that is VERY difficult to do: it blurs the line between who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. That isn’t just conforming to plot point norms. That’s an achievement very few psychological thrillers have ever managed to accomplish.

    From your perspective, the film upended the audience expectations by “devolving the character in stereotypical and offensive ways,
    to a point that was trite, gimmicky and politically repulsive,” and the wife was an “easily gulled life support system for the womb.”

    Except the wife being cast as the histrionic, irrational housewife isn’t even something I can call accurate because she works from home, actively takes steps to investigate the problem, and the implication that she’s a pill popper is there to provide a false function in the story. The audience THINKS she’s swallowed pills and passes out, but the reveal later shows that she was drugged. Without her history as a pill popper offered in the exposition, the notion that she was drugged would have become OBVIOUS to the audience and they would have more easily guessed the ending. So what you see as a misogynist strand is actually a vital component in setup to payoff. Just as what you view as character “devolving into stereotypical, offensive ways” is actual the slow reveal of character and the blurring of the line between protagonist and antagonist.

    And honestly, “life support system for the womb.” Nobody except a feminist would ever talk like that. Just like nobody except a feminist would
    use made up baby talk terms like “heteronormativity” and “feminicide.”

    You’ve also made these statement without even being able to qualify them. HOW does the character become offensive specifically to feminism? There’s no example of him treating the wife like a child, no example of him
    treating her like an object, no example of him treating her with disrespect or violence. Quite honestly, I’m amazed he did none of these things because it would have been in the character’s nature to control situations. If he bullied Gordo, it would be consistent to his character to bully his wife. Except this is where the character plays AGAINST convention. Convention would have made him consistently a bully to all people in all situations, but instead, because it wants eventually make the protagonist the antagonist, it resists the urge to do so. Even when the central character’s poor qualities surface, he STILL doesn’t manage to violate the relationship with his wife.

    But a feminist, looking for anything to cherry pick, sees none of these principles which have been layered into the story, and sees only an
    over-controlling bully who must therefore be a misogynist. This claim is completely
    invented in this story.

    And where did you come up with this idea that the character is POLITICALLY repulsive? Where do politics enter this story? Is there some hot button issue he goes off on? I don’t think so.

    In terms of the plot, does the spine of action create progressive complications that go from minor, to moderate, to major through
    each act? Yes it does. Do the protagonists react off the antagonists actions and take minimum conservative actions before being pushed to more drastic measures? Yes, they do. Does the gap between expectation and reality spring
    open on the characters more than a few times? Yes it does. Does it force the audience to recalibrate everything it has seen when new reveals arise? Yes it does.

    So tell me where there can be no objectivity in the assessment of movies? For someone who claims I don’t get something, you sure missed a lot in this two hour film.

    Not only that, but the movie keeps the audience guessing by shuffling its clues out of order, provides a red herring that the audience doesn’t see coming (the second guy Bateman bullied),
    and it satisfies the necessity for the antagonist to execute the perfect crime against his victim. Hell, it even uses the monkey as an image system. All these things are what smart thrillers do. So to call any of it gimmicky would be in complete lack of understanding of what goes into keeping the audience guessing, and it just ignores the results, all of which I’ve mentioned here. Your best
    response to this seems to have just been another unqualified statement about “overvaluing
    threadbare tropes by the films end.”

    If there were anything political about this movie, we would have to look into the movie’s THEME to identify it. Okay, so what is the movie’s theme?

    The main theme of the story occurs when Gordo says, “See how easily people can be poisoned by ideas?” In other words, poisoning the
    perception of other people. Gordo’s life was ruined by the perception of others, and now he returned the favor by poisoning the perception of his child. NOWHERE in this theme is there a political statement. No statement that’s anti-feminist, no statement that’s ideologically divisive. Just a simple theme that reiterates a phenomenon that often occurs in ordinary life between people.

    You then say, “You make the fatal error of assuming “feminism” is some gloss on an otherwise non-ideological reality into which the film is inserted. That’s a very immature way of understanding the production of cultural products of all kinds, films included.”

    There’s no fatal error because the second part of your statement is an assumption based on contradictory evidence. I’ll make an easy prediction by saying you won’t see how I’ve demonstrated that The Gift is completely absent
    of anti-feminist sentiment and that you will continue to insist on it, but the fact is, I’ve offered a very specific argument while you’ve just made
    unqualified statements. If anything, it’s immature to assume I’m not aware of Hollywood’s effort to politicize entertainment. I’m more than aware of it. It’s just rather ironic that you would not apply this to how that’s caused you to view The Gift as being offensive to feminist ideology.

    And that’s neither here nor there. The main problem with the movie is not the movie; it’s the review. The Gift manages to do what a
    psychological thriller promises according to its subgenre, which is generate curiosity and concern, play against the expectation of what will occur, keep the audience guessing, and create a final resolution that irreversibly changes
    the story value for the protagonist by moving him from an ordinary guy to a victim at the end. NONE OF THIS was examined in this review. And that’s why it’s based purely on subjective bias rather than the principles of story.

    My ideology consists of rejecting all forms of ideology designed to control mass consciousness. If you’d like to call that ideology, go ahead. I won’t contest it. But saying that ideology is “consistent” with Gamergate is really nothing more than a subtle attempt to link me to them. Saying I’m on the verge of turning into a monster when I’m “challenged” is just more melodrama on your part.

    But if gamers don’t like Anita Sarkeesian, it’s probably be because they’re a bunch of nerds who just want to go on living their lives as nerds and aren’t interested in being attacked by a movement that is going around looking under every rock for things that it can control.

    As for the offering your “in depth analysis,” do I have an option of passing on that? Because I’m really not interested.

  • Bluejay

    And yet, as you can see, your original comment is still here, so now you just appear to be repeating yourself. Sometimes it takes Disqus a while to process and display comments, but entitled commenters are often quick to blame some imagined censorship.

    a free exchange of ideas are not allowed by the very movement you support

    Some commenters also imagine that just because THEIR comments appear to be deleted, it means the moderator is hostile to all dissent. They conveniently ignore the many arguments involving dissenting views that remain in plain sight and are quite clearly NOT deleted (including arguments they themselves have actively participated in). They can’t imagine the possibility that their comments were removed for reasons other than simple disagreement.

    Which is a moot point here, because your comments are still all here. Best leave your martyr complex at home.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Nope, my comment does not appear. It was deleted. So you’ve more or less accused someone of the very things you’ve done.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    For the record, THIS was my response:

    Since you’ve managed to tone down your response, I’ll do the
    same. But I’m going to say this: I’m absolutely NOT interested in having a
    continued conversation about this. Why you decided to jump into this
    conversation three months after is something I find to be extremely annoying,
    because it’s a waste of time that went nowhere with people who projected
    feminist ideology into a movie where it didn’t exist, and I suspect it will go
    nowhere with you. Plus you’re asking me to remember a movie I saw in August, so
    part of this will have to be a rehash of what I wrote.

    You say no movie is great because it conforms to the norms of
    plot development, except what you’re referring to are mere plot points that

    have to be present in order to tell a complete story, and that is NOT what I’m
    referring to.

    It’s skilled because does something that is VERY difficult to
    do: it blurs the line between who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist.
    That isn’t just conforming to plot point norms. That’s an achievement very few
    psychological thrillers have ever managed to accomplish.

    From your perspective, the film upended the audience
    expectations by “devolving the character in stereotypical and offensive ways,

    to a point that was trite, gimmicky and politically repulsive,” and the wife
    was an “easily gulled life support system for the womb.”

    Except the wife being cast as the histrionic, irrational
    housewife isn’t even something I can call accurate because she works from home,
    actively takes steps to investigate the problem, and the implication that she’s
    a pill popper is there to provide a false function in the story. The audience
    THINKS she’s swallowed pills and passes out, but the reveal later shows that
    she was drugged. Without her history as a pill popper offered in the exposition,
    the notion that she was drugged would have become OBVIOUS to the audience and
    they would have more easily guessed the ending. So what you see as a misogynist
    strand is actually a vital component in setup to payoff. Just as what you view
    as character “devolving into stereotypical, offensive ways” is actual the slow
    reveal of character and the blurring of the line between protagonist and
    antagonist.

    And honestly, “life support system for the womb.” Nobody except
    a feminist would ever talk like that. Just like nobody except a feminist would

    use made up baby talk terms like “heteronormativity” and “feminicide.”

    You’ve also made these statement without even being able to
    qualify them. HOW does the character become offensive specifically to feminism?
    There’s no example of him treating the wife like a child, no example of him

    treating her like an object, no example of him treating her with disrespect or
    violence. Quite honestly, I’m amazed he did none of these things because it
    would have been in the character’s nature to control situations. If he bullied
    Gordo, it would be consistent to his character to bully his wife. Except this
    is where the character plays AGAINST convention. Convention would have made him
    consistently a bully to all people in all situations, but instead, because it
    wants eventually make the protagonist the antagonist, it resists the urge to do
    so. Even when the central character’s poor qualities surface, he STILL doesn’t
    manage to violate the relationship with his wife.

    But a feminist, looking for anything to cherry pick, sees none
    of these principles which have been layered into the story, and sees only an

    over-controlling bully who must therefore be a misogynist. This claim is
    completely

    invented in this story.

    And where did you come up with this idea that the character is
    POLITICALLY repulsive? Where do politics enter this story? Is there some hot
    button issue he goes off on? I don’t think so.

    In terms of the plot, does the spine of action create
    progressive complications that go from minor, to moderate, to major through

    each act? Yes it does. Do the protagonists react off the antagonists actions
    and take minimum conservative actions before being pushed to more drastic
    measures? Yes, they do. Does the gap between expectation and reality spring

    open on the characters more than a few times? Yes it does. Does it force the
    audience to recalibrate everything it has seen when new reveals arise? Yes it
    does.

    So tell me where there can be no objectivity in the assessment
    of movies? For someone who claims I don’t get something, you sure missed a lot
    in this two hour film.

    Not only that, but the movie keeps the audience guessing by
    shuffling its clues out of order, provides a red herring that the audience
    doesn’t see coming (the second guy Bateman bullied),

    and it satisfies the necessity for the antagonist to execute the perfect crime
    against his victim. Hell, it even uses the monkey as an image system. All these
    things are what smart thrillers do. So to call any of it gimmicky would be in
    complete lack of understanding of what goes into keeping the audience guessing,
    and it just ignores the results, all of which I’ve mentioned here. Your best

    response to this seems to have just been another unqualified statement about
    “overvaluing

    threadbare tropes by the films end.”

    If there were anything political about this movie, we would have
    to look into the movie’s THEME to identify it. Okay, so what is the movie’s
    theme?

    The main theme of the story occurs when Gordo says, “See
    how easily people can be poisoned by ideas?” In other words, poisoning the

    perception of other people. Gordo’s life was ruined by the perception of
    others, and now he returned the favor by poisoning the perception of his child.
    NOWHERE in this theme is there a political statement. No statement that’s
    anti-feminist, no statement that’s ideologically divisive. Just a simple theme
    that reiterates a phenomenon that often occurs in ordinary life between people.

    You then say, “You make the fatal error of assuming
    “feminism” is some gloss on an otherwise non-ideological reality into
    which the film is inserted. That’s a very immature way of understanding the
    production of cultural products of all kinds, films included.”

    There’s no fatal error because the second part of your statement
    is an assumption based on contradictory evidence. I’ll make an easy prediction
    by saying you won’t see how I’ve demonstrated that The Gift is completely
    absent

    of anti-feminist sentiment and that you will continue to insist on it, but the
    fact is, I’ve offered a very specific argument while you’ve just made

    unqualified statements. If anything, it’s immature to assume I’m not aware of
    Hollywood’s effort to politicize entertainment. I’m more than aware of it. It’s
    just rather ironic that you would not apply this to how that’s caused you to
    view The Gift as being offensive to feminist ideology.

    And that’s neither here nor there. The main problem with the
    movie is not the movie; it’s the review. The Gift manages to do what a

    psychological thriller promises according to its subgenre, which is generate
    curiosity and concern, play against the expectation of what will occur, keep
    the audience guessing, and create a final resolution that irreversibly changes

    the story value for the protagonist by moving him from an ordinary guy to a
    victim at the end. NONE OF THIS was examined in this review. And that’s why
    it’s based purely on subjective bias rather than the principles of story.

    My ideology consists of rejecting all forms of ideology designed
    to control mass consciousness. If you’d like to call that ideology, go ahead. I
    won’t contest it. But saying that ideology is “consistent” with Gamergate is
    really nothing more than a subtle attempt to link me to them. Saying I’m on the
    verge of turning into a monster when I’m “challenged” is just more melodrama on
    your part.

    But if gamers don’t like Anita Sarkeesian, it’s probably be
    because they’re a bunch of nerds who just want to go on living their lives as
    nerds and aren’t interested in being attacked by a movement that is going
    around looking under every rock for things that it can control.

    As for
    the offering your “in depth analysis,” do I have an option of passing on that?
    Because I’m really not interested.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Nope. Still not seeing it. My last three comments appear nowhere. What I do see below his response is comment deleted. And this disquis “problem” was never the case until now.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    By the way, the whole condescending moderator thing has been done before. See every other message board.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Since I can’t possibly imagine stuff, should I pretend that the comment is still here? Because it isn’t.

  • Bluejay

    You really can’t see this? The Internet must not like you.

  • Bluejay

    You’re moving the goalposts. First it was “the moderator is squashing the free exchange of ideas,” now it’s just “the moderator is condescending.”

    I note that the vast majority of your exchanges is still here. Quit your whining.

  • Bluejay

    Bullshit. Here is your original comment, and here is your first repeat of it. Stop being a broken record.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Nope. I can only see it from where you linked it inside the word “THIS.” And when I click your link, it only shows the second deleted response. The responses after that even inside that red link are missing. Which is just as well, because I was never interested in revisiting this nonsense.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    I’m neither “moving the goalpost” nor “bullshitting.” I can only see it inside your links. Which is curious in itself. Anyway, I’m done wasting time here.

  • Bluejay

    Again, bullshit. Just clicking the main link for this post and scrolling down lets you see all your comments intact. You’re just not very good at the Internet, or you’re lying, or your pride won’t let you take back your false accusations of censorship. But have a nice life anyway, since I’m sure you’re done wasting time replying.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Let me walk you through this. None of the comments appear when I go to the site, something that has never happened before. I can only see them through the link you provided in red on the site. Now please stop responding.

  • Bluejay

    Then you’re using an Evil Twin Internet from what I’m using. But it’s interesting that you immediately go to “censorship!” and “threat to democracy!” as a response. Because all the other discussions on this thread are all fawning in agreement?

    You have the power to stop responding, too. If you’re done wasting time here, then don’t.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Oh, those darn evil twins. It was probably the one named Giglimesh.

  • In case you had not noticed, I do not review films based on “the principles of story design.” As I have said many times, even if I thought this was a well-told story, that would not excuse its vile underlying philosophies.

    I am not the critic you’re looking for. Move along.

  • projected feminist ideology into a movie where it didn’t exist

    And that’s why it needs a feminist reading!

    That the world is not feminist is also why words like “heteronormativity” are so needed.

  • I haven’t deleted any of your comments.

    But this ain’t no democracy, pal.

  • Let me walk you through this. I have NOT deleted any of your comments, but I’m getting sorely tempted to ban you altogether for being obnoxious.

  • This is my site. I rule. You don’t like it, get lost. Most people who are able to behave like reasonable adults don’t seem to have any trouble here.

  • Quit reposting your comments and cluttering up my threads.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    And I have said to you, probably six times now, that it’s your prerogative to do so – and if it’s your pleasure, to believe what you write. But if it is, your review does not belong on a neutral review site. It simply belongs on the site you have put up for your own Jezibel purposes.

    More than happy to move along. Not having continued messages appear in my inbox would certainly help that.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    So, just to be clear, being obnoxious constitutes talking about story design, but repeated sentiments like “get lost” constitute civility?

  • Bluejay

    Right, because accusing MaryAnn of hating and demonizing men — and telling another commenter (in duplicate comments) that their comment is “the single biggest garbage response” you’ve received and that they’re being melodramatic and acting out Manchurian Candidate social engineering — and repeatedly posting duplicate comments and then claiming they’re deleted and that you’re the victim of feminist fascist censors — is THE HEIGHT of civility.

  • Michael Cavallaro

    Tell you what. I’m just going to save some time and put these responses in the spam folder. If you’re interested in wallowing in negative energy, you’re as free to do that as Ms. Johanson is in writing these kinds of reviews. There are a number of things that go wrong in people lives. What you assign to it, and how you choose to deal with it, is entirely your business. But I cannot, and will not, allow you to make it mine.

    Good luck to you.

  • Bluejay

    your review does not belong on a neutral review site.

    Because reviews should be “neutral”? Bwahahaha!

    More than happy to move along.

    And yet here you are, surprise, surprise.

    People have every right to respond to your comments. If you want a conversation to end, then YOU end it — by not replying at all. Surely you’re capable of that.

  • Bluejay

    You’re still replying, bud. That’s more wasted time on your part. If you don’t want to talk to us, then JUST STOP TALKING.

  • Michael Cavallaro has been blocked. Please do not respond to him further.

  • Sensia

    I really thought this was going to be a good movie but it really let me down in the end. First off in today’s age we have this thing called a “paternity test” so if Simon was really stressing about whether or not that was his baby he could have easily told his wife what happened and demanded a blood test. Secondly, I would have liked to have seen a more thorough explanation of what really happened that would have made this man “Gordo” decide to do such heinous things. On the one hand we feel sorry for what may have happened to him and on the other we are thinking the guy is a real psychopath. The movie wanted us to believe that Simon was the real psychopath but didn’t back it up in the end. I was thoroughly disappointed by the ending of what could have been such a good movie.

  • Ray Liptak

    I didn’t care for it at all and I didn’t lIke the characterization of Robyn and if there’s a good reason to have and know how to use a gun Gordo is it. Bullying is crappy and terrible but no one deserves that end bit. I also didn’t care for the ambiguous got scott free away with it ending. Resolution is good.

  • Suzzy Ruthgar

    Considering the director’s cut end credits showed him NOT raping her but instead placing her in bed and making sure she was alright, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s pretty obvious from the entire context of the film that he never did it, regardless of the director’s cut. Additionally, the ending monologue sums it up as a fake. Simon lied about him getting molested, so he lied about this. The entire story is about how lies can still ruin lives…

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