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Overall Rating
3.8

Awesome: 23.68%
Worth A Look43.86%
Average: 21.93%
Pretty Bad: 9.65%
Total Crap: 0.88%

9 reviews, 60 user ratings



Gift, The (2001)
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by EricDSnider

"Superbly tense film ... up until that awful, awful ending."
4 stars

When I settled in to watch "The Gift," the new thriller from director Sam Raimi, I was told it was 140 minutes long. Thus, when we reached the 105-minute mark and the film seemed not just to be ending, but to be ending in an extremely disappointing and fraudulent manner, I thought, "Oh, good. Raimi and his fine troupe of thespians have treated me right so far, what with the excellent performances, engrossing story line and smart directing. Surely this hokey ending I'm seeing is meant to throw us off, to make us THINK the movie is ending like any generic thriller would, when really there's still another half-hour in which to turn the genre on its ear and wrap things up in a manner more befitting the high quality of this motion picture."

Turns out the person who told me 140 minutes was wrong. It's 111 minutes, and that awful ending -- the one that's anti-climactic, rushed-at and laughably predictable -- well, that's the ending.

Up to that point, "The Gift" is a superb, tense film marked by subtlety (except when it's creepier to be unsubtle) and moderation. The incomparable Cate Blanchett plays Annie Wilson, a young Georgia widow with three little boys who is still trying to put the pieces back together after the tragic death of her husband a year earlier. She lives hand-to-mouth, earning some money by using the titular gift: She has E.S.P. The little town of Brixton is full of superstitious folk, and they gladly pay a few dollars here and there to have Annie give them "readings" with a deck of cards designed for that purpose.

One of her clients and friends is Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank, looking like white trash for the new millennium), who is constantly being roughed up by her brutish husband Donnie (Keanu Reeves). Donnie, a good Christian fellow (except for being a racist and a wife-beater), insists Annie has the devil in her; Annie encouraging Valerie to leave Donnie just makes him madder, and he threatens pretty much everyone.

Meanwhile, the local school principal, Wayne Collins (Greg Kinnear), is about to marry slutty debutante Jessica King (Katie Holmes), who in turn is already cheating on him. Jessica goes missing, and the local authorities reluctantly ask Annie to use her powers to help them find her. She does, and she leads them to a pond near Donnie Barksdale's house. Jessica's body is found in the pond, and Donnie is put on trial for the murder.

Obviously, it can't be that cut-and-dried, and it isn't. Annie continues to have dreams and visions -- which Raimi directs with a keen eye and ear for what images and sounds will scare the pants off of us -- and comes to the realization that she may know more about the killer after all. It's great to see the horrible Donnie incarcerated, of course -- but what if he didn't do it?

Alongside all this is a story with Annie's simple friend Buddy (Giovanni Ribisi), who trusts her psychic advice to the letter and who has some serious family problems. It was during a particularly dire and disturbing scene with Buddy that I realized this subplot probably was not going to tie in adequately with the main story. And I was right, though not because the movie didn't try to force a connection.

This is one of the best-acted films I've seen in a while. Reeves does an unusually adequate job, and even Greg Kinnear, who is normally too smarmy and oily, hands in an impressive performance. Blanchett is right up there, as are Ribisi and Swank. Kudos to Raimi for coaxing nuanced, careful performances from all of them; if you listen, you'll catch clues to what will happen next based just on how certain characters say things.

But oh, that ending. It's amazing how much impact a few minutes can have. The movie stays on a straight, true course right up until the end, when it detours into Generic Land. Too bad Annie couldn't have foreseen that disaster and acted to prevent it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3912&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/04/03 16:28:23
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good southern supernatural flick 4 stars
3/17/15 Dane Youssef A worthwhile southern supernatural noir. It's one of 2001's better. 5 stars
3/31/12 Sid Rumkowski Great film,has a "Slingblade" flavor to it. 5 stars
2/28/11 Monday Morning OK but just a little too slow. 3 stars
12/21/08 noops.... another good flick frm billy bob... Cate Blanchett as good as always 5 stars
2/11/07 Bitchflaps The inconsistent screenplay is rescued by skillful directing and compelling performances. 4 stars
1/10/07 David Pollastrini Katie Holmes is hot! Ditch tom! 3 stars
8/30/05 tatum "Murder, Steel Magnolias Wrote" 3 stars
7/28/05 jada good for tv viewing, wouldn't pay for it, cate great as usual 3 stars
6/22/04 teens the movie is great and now we have a remake of this film in india. 4 stars
3/05/04 john bale Some genuine shocks in this supernatural outing, thanks to Cate taking it seriously 4 stars
1/25/04 Elena So good except the awful, awful moronic ending that ruined everything. 4 stars
1/10/04 kaz morrison dream cast 5 stars
10/04/03 R.W. Welch Effectively done paranormal mystery, tho the ending is hard to buy. Top drawer acting. 4 stars
7/09/03 nr i loved this film it was great 5 stars
5/15/03 George Jung Tits! Now that I have your attention, this movie is perfect! Raimi is a perfect director. 5 stars
4/08/03 Shadaan Felfeli Its been a while since i saw the movie..but i recall enjoying it. Blanchet take a bow ! 4 stars
3/12/03 Blabity blah Great story telling. Blanchett/Reeves and Ribisi are EXCELLENT!! 5 stars
2/17/03 y2mckay Blanchett fantastic, not Raimi's best but good, Keanu actually acts. Oh, nice tits Katie 4 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby Holmes' boobs are nice; Reeves is scary; Blanchett is superb! 4 stars
9/23/02 .Choadushouse. Ribisi is amazing. Holmes gives me a huge boner. And the movie gave me the chills. 4 stars
9/18/02 palaboy101 surprisingly good thriller 4 stars
8/13/02 blakers a great film 5 stars
7/13/02 Edfink Lombardo One of the year's creepiest. Katie Holmes is so hot. 5 stars
5/22/02 Phoenix Nice tities. 5 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Katie Holmes' too-brief topless scene is all this overwrought mess has going for it. 2 stars
2/22/02 Jeff all around excellent movie 5 stars
1/13/02 Phil M. Afficianado When it is "not your kind of film" but you still like it, it's a good thing. 4 stars
1/06/02 Unanon actually managed to keep my attention! Bloody spooky at times too. 4 stars
12/22/01 Caiphn Thorton wrote this, Keanu was in it.. but it wasn't bad. 4 stars
11/27/01 sdfr ostensibly a "ghost" story, the film turns out to be much much more at the end. Good stuff 4 stars
10/17/01 Hum very close to being a very good movie 4 stars
9/13/01 Gary Masterful direction and a routinely great Blanchett, but poorly scripted and predictable. 2 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Creepiest fucking movie of the year! Too bad no one saw it! 5 stars
7/31/01 Monday Morning Thought Ribisi's/Reeves' characters were too over the top but film was still very good. 4 stars
7/22/01 Basil Giovanni Ribisi is excellent. 5 stars
7/20/01 greensweater boobies!! 4 stars
7/16/01 james shore there is to many parts were u r waitin to be scared 3 stars
5/04/01 Freak-77 Brilliant 5 stars
5/02/01 Geoff Only good things about this film. Katie Holmes showed us both of them. A truly lame effort. 2 stars
4/19/01 Tam A suspense thriller done well. Pretty good characterisation. 4 stars
3/27/01 JOSEPH LEEMAN katie homles was so hot in this movie 5 stars
3/20/01 Matthew Bartley Not very original but solidly done with the requisite shocks and scares 4 stars
3/04/01 Bob Cate Blanchett & Katie Holmes keep things intersting in this predictable but well-made crap 2 stars
2/24/01 Marie Very very boring. 1 stars
2/16/01 Rachem I really liked this flick... was sorta shocked that I did! 4 stars
2/13/01 HawthorneWingo Cate Blanchett character too much a freaking saint -- and the dead-husband subplot was crap 3 stars
2/12/01 Jake While not perfect, It was still astounding. Ribisi and Reeves were explosive! 5 stars
2/09/01 Keanuette Wonderfully suspenseful with a great all round cast, esp Keanu as Donnie *mo'fo* Barksdale 4 stars
2/09/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi A few minor ripoff vibes here and there, but why quibble?? Raimi & Co rules as always. 4 stars
2/09/01 Laura Pierce I took my hubby and he even liked it, so it has to be good! 5 stars
2/08/01 ObiWan Some genuinely exciting moments are in this film, but the ending ruins all credibility. 3 stars
2/07/01 Obi Wan Very entertaining, especially Katie Holmes...kinda reminded me of Beneath w/Pfeiffer & Ford 4 stars
1/25/01 Randy Director Holmes gets naked. 5 stars
1/24/01 JB Great fucking suspense. Keanu Reeves does a GREATJOB!!!! No BS! 5 stars
1/24/01 grunter You know Greg Kinnear did it from the moment he's introduced on screen 2 stars
1/22/01 Jupiter I'd go see any movie with Keanu Reeves in it. I wish he had been it this one more. 4 stars
1/21/01 earl duron well acted,effectively chilling yarn 4 stars
1/20/01 Buddy Acting is the best part. The ghost ending may suck, but Giovanni & Katie & Greg are cool 5 stars
1/09/01 Keanuette A very creepy supernatural thriller with good all round performances. KEANU is very good! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Jan-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Apr-2001 (M)




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