The Gift explores the unsettling relationship between two men who went to school together, and are reunited randomly. Seemingly innocent at first, it quickly turns suspicious, as there appears to be something deeper happening beneath the surface. We have been inspired to take a look at similar films that utilise the theme of secret pasts. The Gift is in UK cinemas August 7th!
Angelina Jolie plays a gripping character as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent with a complex and hidden past. When a defector visits her offices with classified information about who assassinated the President of Russia, things quickly turn dangerous for Salt as she is accused of being a Russian spy and committing the crime. Running from the CIA and becoming a fugitive, Salt has to go undercover whilst utilising the skills she has been trained in to protect herself. The more Salt tries to escape capture the more compelling the case is for her being guilty.
The Incredibles (2004)
This highly popular Pixar film features parents with secret pasts. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are married with three children, all of whom are unaware of their previous superpower status. Although the children have powers of their own, they are initially in the dark. When a turn of events causes the family to use their superpowers to overcome an evil force and protect one another, the children quickly learn their parents’ capabilities.
The Guest (2014)
David Collins turns up at his deceased friend Caleb’s family home after Caleb is killed at war in Afghanistan. Claiming that Caleb asked him to watch over his family and protect them, David takes the task in his stride. Protecting the children from their bullying peers and pressurising boyfriends, David appears to be the perfect addition to the family following the death of Caleb. However, the eldest child grows suspicious of David, and calls the military base where they inform her that the David supposedly died the previous week whilst on tour. Alarmingly, random and unexplained deaths begin to occur in the town – and David begins to look like the main culprit.
James McAvoy plays a troubled detective, Bruce Robertson. Absorbed with his passion for scheming, manipulation, drugs, sexually abusive relationships and alcohol, McAvoy longs to become a Detective Inspector. Although McAvoy appears to be living his own toxic dream, it becomes apparent that his disillusion is as a result of his wife’s affair and denied access to his daughter. Portraying a different image to the reality of his situation, McAvoy learns he suffers from bipolar disorder, and has to face the truth of his past and understand the effect it has on his present and future when he is demoted to Constable.
Famous for being one of the most complex and layered films ever, Memento specialises in having characters with hidden pasts. Leonard is desperately tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. However, he is riddled with the inability to remember, as he suffers from untreatable memory loss. Struggling to know who to trust, Leonard employs others on his journey, and is in the dark about their pasts just as much as the audience is. Teddy is Leonard’s main partner in crime – however, in the final sequence we learn that Teddy plays a pivotal role in Leonard’s habitual searches for the murderer, and that he might not be the man he says he is…
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Although he may not be one of the main characters within the franchise, Scabbers’ secret past is an alarming plot twist that drives the narrative in an entirely new direction. Ronald Weasley’s pet rat Scabbers spent 12 years living in his Animagus form, preventing Harry, Ron and Hermione from knowing they had a traitor in their midst. Changing into his human form as Peter Pettigrew, the rat-turned-human has a secret past which is the key behind who betrayed Harry’s parents to Lord Voldemort. Peter Pettigrew’s secret past is made all the more alarming as he was previously a loved and cherished pet by Ron and his family.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Haunted by whispers, feelings of ghosts around her, and supernatural activity, Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) believes there is an external presence in her house. Turning to her husband (Harrison Ford) for support, they try to return to the perfect marital work they created together. When Claire begins to dig for clues about what spirit could be haunting her, it becomes apparent that her husband’s past could be questionable. Revealing his affair from many years ago, Claire’s husband could have brought unwanted spirits into their family home as a consequence of his actions.
A History of Violence (2005)
Living in a quiet suburban town, happily married with kids, Tom (Viggo Mortensen) works in a local café. One day when two criminals attempt to rob him, he manages to protect his livelihood, customers, and kill the robbers to keep everyone safe. Hailed a hero, Tom tries to brush the incident aside. However, people begin to appear who raise questions within his family about why he is able to kill people with such ease. Tom has a secret past that leaves him the potential target of other dangerous people, and his family are caught in the middle of it.