The Gift – USA, 2000

‘The only witness to the crime was not even there’

The Gift is a 2000 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Sam Raimi (Drag Me to Hell; Evil Dead franchise) from a screenplay written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, based on the alleged psychic experiences of Thornton’s mother. The Lakeshore Entertainment production stars Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear.

Plot:

In the town of Brixton, Georgia, widow Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett) is a fortune-teller. Jessica King, the fiancée of local school teacher, Wayne Collins, disappears.

Annie receives a vision revealing that Jessica has been killed and her corpse thrown into a pond. She informs local sheriff Pearl Johnson of her vision, and despite his skepticism, Johnson searches a pond at the home of Donnie Barksdale, the violent husband of one of Annie’s clients, Valerie.

Donnie had previously threatened Annie, and her kids, for Annie advising Valerie to leave him. Valerie permits the search while Donnie is absent, but he returns while the search is proceeding. The police find Jessica’s corpse in the pond and Donnie is arrested for her murder…

Reviews:

“Raimi’s sure hand and graceful storytelling falter only during the anticlimactic conclusion, a moment as needlessly convoluted and unconvincing as the rest of the film is vivid, compelling, and authentic.” Nathan Rabin, AV Film

“A glorious textbook example of a gifted film maker’s ability to transform a familiar genre and, thrillingly, to confound our expectations in the process.” Susan Stark, Detroit News

“The Evil Dead films were masterworks of popcorn enthusiasm made by a young talent bursting with sheer exuberance; The Gift feels like it is made by a staid, middle-of-the-road director who is conducting an experiment in genre with no understanding of the genre’s cliches and pitfalls whatsoever.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“The picture is saved from mediocrity by Mr. Raimi’s smooth competence, and by the unusually high quality of the acting. Ms. Holmes has a fine time shedding her ”Dawson’s Creek” good-girl image (and most of her clothes), and Greg Kinnear, as her fiance, walks the well-trod line between sensitivity and sleaziness.” A.O. Scott, The New York Times

THE GIFT, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, 2000

“The movie is ingenious in its plotting, colorful in its characters, taut in its direction and fortunate in possessing Cate Blanchett. If this were not a crime picture […], it would be easier to see the quality of her work. By the end, as all hell is breaking loose, it’s easy to forget how much everything depended on the sympathy and gravity she provided in the first two acts.” Roger Ebert

“You may nail the murderer before the script gets around to it […] but Raimi’s flair for rich atmospherics — expertly abetted by cinematographer Jamie Anderson (Grosse Pointe Blank) and composer Christopher Young (Wonder Boys) — and a cast that goes full throttle hold you in thrall.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Cast and characters:

  • Cate Blanchett … Annabelle ‘Annie’ Wilson
  • Giovanni Ribisi … Buddy Cole
  • Keanu Reeves … Donnie Barksdale
  • Katie Holmes … Jessica King
  • Greg Kinnear … Wayne Collins
  • Hilary Swank … Valerie Barksdale
  • Michael Jeter … Gerald Weems
  • Kim Dickens … Linda
  • Gary Cole … David Duncan
  • Rosemary Harris … Annie’s Granny
  • J.K. Simmons … Sheriff Pearl Johnson
  • Chelcie Ross … Kenneth King
  • John Beasley … Albert Hawkins
  • Lynnsee Provence … Mike Wilson
  • Hunter McGilvray … Miller Wilson
  • Nathan Lee Lewis … Cornelius (as Nathan Lewis)
  • Benjamin Peacock … Tommy
  • Clay James … Stanley
  • David Brannen … Ben Wilson
  • Russell Durham Comegys … Ben Sr.
  • Janell McLeod … Mrs. Francis
  • Robby Preddy … Lady #2

Filming locations:

Savannah, Springfield and Thunderbolt, Georgia

Technical details:

111 minutes | Eastman Kodak | Panavision

Box office:

The Gift took $44,567,606 worldwide on a reported budget of $10 million.

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