Sam Raimi has made a career of crafting some of the most
entertaining and thought provoking films in Hollywood.
"The Evil Dead" was an experience in pure terror;
"A Simple Plan" was a careful study of human behavior;
was an action packed comic book extravaganza. However,
with "The Gift", Sam Raimi combines elements of
reality with little touches of the supernatural to create his
most intriguing film yet, and one of the best films of 2000, by
Cate Blanchett stars as Annie Wilson, a widow with three
children, who makes a living by reading Tarot cards for people
in her small Southern town. Annie has been psychic since
she was a little girl and has visions of things to come.
However, being in the rural South, most people do not respond to
her abilities with zeal and admiration. However, when a
young girl goes missing, Annie is sought to help unravel the
mystery and discover the body, unearthing evils and atrocities
she never imagined.
What makes this film so strong is the actors. Each and
every performance is perfectly delivered and thoroughly
entertaining, the highlights coming from Keanu Reeves as an
unbelievably abusive squirrel hunter, and Giovanni Ribisi as a
mentally unstable mechanic who is a regular customer of Annie's.
Hilary Swank is Reeves' abused wife, Greg Kinnear is a principal
dating the missing girl, and Gary Cole is a determined, somewhat
Raimi does a superb job of blending the right touches of the supernatural
into the storyline, without making it unbelievably or absurd.
The only ghosts and visions seen are by Annie, who as 'the
gift', and to all of the other characters involved, it is just a
murder mystery waiting to be solved. There are some very
nice subplots in the film, one in particular involving
Blanchett's harassment from Reeves, and another being a romantic
involvement between Blanchett and Kinnear.
And, in true Raimi fashion, there are a few scenes designed to
make you jump and actually scare. The most frightening
image in the film occurs during one of Annie's visions, in which
she is envisioning where the missing girl might be, and she sees
an old fiddler sawing away at his instrument on a tree trunk--I
won't say anymore because the scene is too horrifying to
describe without inducing nightmares of my own.
The director doesn't get too bogged down with trying to make
this a horror film or a thriller, and instead works intensely
with strong character development and drama, showing how Annie
Wilson is looked upon by the neighboring townspeople due to her
The most disappointing thing about this film was that it did not
receive the Oscar nominations it deserved. Both Giovanni
Ribisi and Keanu Reeves should have been considered for Best
Supporting Actor and Sam Raimi should have been an automatic
nomination for Best Director. I suppose the supernatural
twist to the film threw the judges off, but it is really a very
minimal part of the picture. This is a quality film from a
quality director and never fails to entertain throughout.
All of the performances are flawless and you'll never look at
Charlie Daniels the same way again.
( 4 out of 4 pops )
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