The Gift (2000)

"Weak"

The Gift (2000) Review


Maybe Paramount held back on giving The Gift a wide release during the Christmas season to avoid too many reviewers saying, "This Gift is a holiday lump of coal..." or something like that. If so, good call.

The latest from Sam Raimi (For Love of the Game) is a muddled thriller, filled with tired clichés and some of the worst casting in years. Raimi, along with screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, try so hard to create a "serious" psychic chiller that the film is practically drained of any excitement.

The person "seeing dead people" in this one is Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), a widowed mother of three in a small Southern town (where else would Thornton set a story?). She's a well-known seer, doling out "fortune teller" information to the locals for a fee, and sometimes giving them just good 'ol advice.

Exploiting every white trash stereotype, the filmmakers give Annie a clientele that makes The Jerry Springer Show look like My Three Sons. Oscar winner Hilary Swank gets her ass beaten regularly by a hateful, lunatic husband (Keanu Reeves!), and the local auto mechanic (Giovanni Ribisi) looks for help within his abusive, bipolar world. At times, the depression is so one-dimensional and cartoonish, it's tough not to laugh a little.

When a local rich girl (Katie Holmes) goes missing before her wedding, Annie is asked to tell what she knows, whether it be from armchair gossip or actual visions. Of course, law enforcement is typically skeptical, and Raimi and writers have thrown in enough thin characters to make you think anyone could be responsible for the girl's disappearance.

While that may be a good strategy to keep an audience guessing, the dialogue and tension are so woefully thin that we don't give a damn in the long run anyway. Where are the Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson that wrote the excellent One False Move? This has none of that film's creativity or development.

And although Raimi does provide some fuller, more introspective moments, a la A Simple Plan, they come too little, too late. The only real reason to dig in to The Gift are Blanchett and Ribisi: She practically disappears into her caring character, struggling with a slew of problems both internal and external, and Ribisi's turn as Buddy Cole is a guts-on-the-line performance of raw pain and terror.

Other than that, Reeves, Holmes, Greg Kinnear, and Gary Cole are either misplaced, wasted, or overacting. And do we really need to see Michael Jeter as a smarmy defense attorney?! Bad casting, a thin script, and a scary movie with no fright: Another unfortunate slip in the curious career of Sam Raimi.

Gift or curse?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.