Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Gift

Movie Name: The Gift
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Greg Kinnear, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Hillary Swank, Michael Jeter, Kim Dickens, Gary Cole, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Chelcie Ross
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon

When "The Gift" premiered in 2000, director Sam Raimi was coming of from the well received "A Simple Plan" and "For the Love of the Game", films that positioned him as a director focused on films beyond the horror and fantasy genre that initially made him popular (with the "Evil Dead" series and also "The Quick and the Dead"). The film written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, follows the story of Annie Wilson, a young woman living in the bayous near Savannah with her three young children. Her husband has passed away, and Annie uses her gifts as a clairvoyant to make ends meet. One of her clients is a housewife trapped in an abusive marriage. The woman's husband, Donnie Barksdale, threatens Annie more than once. When the daughter of a prominent citizen (and fiancee of the school principal) disappears, Annie leads the police to the body. The body is coincidentally found in the lake close to Donnie Barksdale's house, making him one of the main suspects. But Annie's visions start showing something more than that.
Sam Raimi has been a director whose stylistic flourishes have carved a reputation for him, more so than his capabilities as a storyteller. In the late 90s he started tackling different screenplays, and venturing into more character driven material. "The Gift" is a suspense/thriller with supernatural elements, but other than that, it's very much driven by the group of characters and the rural setting where it takes place. The film benefits from a talented and eclectic cast, led by the fantastic Cate Blanchett, but even they can't save the general feel of predictability that comes from the overall material. The film lacks a certain grittiness to achieve the sense of menace that the story tries to convey. It's nonetheless a fairly entertaining film, quickly forgettable.