The Gift (2000)

Another film in the filmography of director Sam Raimi is next on the DailyView. It is the 2000 supernatural thriller called The Gift.

Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett) was a widowed mom of three boys and she had a gift. She was a psychic/fortune teller and she would do readings for the people of the town of Brixton, Georgia to help with the money for her family. She had several clients who had terrible problems in their lives and were desperately looking for what would happen in the future.

When a young woman from a wealthy family named Jessica (Katie Holmes) disappeared, her father (Chelcie Ross) and her fiancé Wayne (Greg Kinnear) came to Annie for help, despite the objections of the sheriff (J.K. Simmons). Annie’s visions led the investigation to a pond on the property of local thug/wife-beater Donnie Barksdale (Keanu Reeves), who had been threatening Annie and her kids.

The Gift has some solid performances in it. Cate Blanchett is always great, no matter the film, and this is no exception. She brings a lot of torture and pain into the character of Annie, who has faced plenty in her life. Keanu Reeves was totally convincing in the role of the abusive, out-of-control husband. The stand out performance though was from Giovanni Ribisi, who played the deeply troubled Buddy. There was such rage and pain just under the surface from Buddy that detailed a life of horrors. Buddy had latched on to Annie as the one person who could help him, but his deep-seeded issues reared themselves at inopportune times.

The narrative bounced around in the first half of the movie, but it was still very compelling. There were several bits that were being set up for a pay off later in the movie. The main plot of the second half of the film does not get underway until well into the movie and does not keep the level of success as the film had originally set up.

Without spoiling anything, I was not overly satisfied with the conclusion of the movie. The answer to the mystery did not feel earned. It came out of nowhere and did not fit with the character that we had seen. Again, the best part of the conclusion to the movie was the use of Giovanni Ribisi and his haunting work.

The Gift is an average film that had some really good elements to it. A great cast and some effective uses of mood creates a stylish thriller. The story is, at best, okay.

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