The Gift (2000)

the gift IMDb

This film became a lot more interesting to me when I looked up its Wikipedia page and discovered this is apparently based on a true story, written by Billy Bob Thornton, about his mother who believed she had psychic powers. Can you get more redneck than that?

The Gift is the story of Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), she lives in a bumpkin town in America’s South. Her husband has recently died, leaving her to support her three sons on her own. In order to earn some extra cash, she begins to tell fortunes and do tarot card readings for members of the town, leading some to accuse her of witchcraft or devil worship. She begins to have visions of the future that begin coming true. She is able to help the local police find the body of a murdered young woman (Katie Holmes), and she also tries to assist them in finding the killer.

The Gift has a really solid cast, Blanchett, Greg Kinnear, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, and J.K. Simmons all appear. The film does a decent job of keeping the twist ending hidden, but when you find out who did commit the murder, it is difficult to understand why the murderer was befriending Cate Blanchett’s character at all. The town has seemingly agreed to believe she has some sort of extrasensory perception, which is fine, but if I was a killer, she’d be the last person I would be associating with just in case she had a vision. I’m not sure what the killer was trying to do. I don’t even know why I’m keeping the killer a secret, it will be so obvious who it is after you’ve read this paragraph. The killer is Greg Kinnear, he begins a relationship with Annie throughout the film, and almost encourages her to discover the truth of his actions, then gets violent when she does. I don’t understand what he is trying to accomplish at all.

The Gift is an average film that fails to take advantage of it’s great cast. It is notable only for being the movie that contains Katie Holmes first nude scene, and if you are wondering, yes, that is the reason I own this movie. We were all young once.

Rating: C-

The Gift feels like one of those books you pick up at the airport just to have something to read on the airplane and then forget in the seat back pocket when the plane lands. In reality it was written by actor Billy Bob Thorton and is based on the his mother’s alleged psychic abilities. Either way, it’s an ordinary and predictable movie.

This is a pretty standard supernatural whodunit, which is set apart only by the fact that it has an excellent cast. I’m actually perplexed that the likes of Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, and Greg Kinnear would appear in a movie like this. Perhaps they felt they could elevate the material, but unfortunately the whole thing is steeped in too many ghost story cliches; the ending alone is straight out of a campfire tale meant to scare kids. Paired with all the other supernatural twists and red herrings leading up to climax, the entire thing actually ends up being boring.

I really can’t say much more about The Gift. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great either. This just feels too much like any other film of the supernatural horror genre. The only thing special about it is that it’s supposedly based on an actor’s life. If Thorton weren’t attached I doubt this would have attracted such a big name cast. In fact, it might not have even been made.

Rating: D

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