Volume 94, Issue 67

Tuesday, January 23, 2001


This is a Gift worth unwrapping

Penn's The Pledge breaks its promise

Disc of the Week

Gondoliers a whole lotta singing

Soundtrack a solid sampler - Six Feet Under sure does suck

This is a Gift worth unwrapping

Gazette File Photo
YEAH, GIVE ME TWO CHEESEBURGERS AND TWO COLAS. Bad boy Keanu Reeves stops for some fast food in The Gift.

The Gift
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Greg Kinnear
Directed By: Sam Raimi

By Tara Dermastja
Gazette Staff

There is something to be said for the ultimate scare – to sink down into your chair, waiting for the inevitable moment when every single audience member screams loud enough to cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Nowadays, horror movies seem to come with more requirements than the Olympic Games, and mediocre scares are becoming increasingly common. Sam Raimi's latest film, The Gift, fills the basic requirements, but that's about it.

Based around Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), the film, written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson, centres on her skills and life as a fortune teller. Her card-reading abilities enable her to witness a murder without even being there and in turn, create a number of enemies.

Undoubtedly, many people in the small Georgian town of Brixton are slightly skeptical of her profession and Annie must prove her visions are real, before more danger takes place.

All standard formats aside, the one true gift in this film is the genuine accomplishment of Blanchett, who not only carries the plot, but saves the movie from becoming bargain-basement trash. Her performance is a winner to say the least, and encouraged by an entourage of well-known names.

While Giovanni Ribisi's turn as tormented town mechanic Buddy is almost just as superbly mastered, it's Keanu Reeves' portrayal of Donny the wife-beater, that may just allow The Gift to stay alive in weekend sales. Instead of bringing his typical confusion to the character, Reeves is, for once, satisfactory and mildly convincing. Adding to the cast are Hilary Swank as Donny's trailer-trash wife and Greg Kinnear as the victim's fiancé, both displaying only fragments of the talent they are accredited with.

But it is Katie Holmes that leaves audiences wondering what the casting director was thinking. Her character is supposedly the town slut, but she comes across more as a little girl playing dress-up than the rich girl about to be married. Nonetheless, Blanchett's and Ribisi's talents more than make up for The Gift's minor flaws, and leaves the audience scared as well as excited.

Raimi's ability to turn the stereotypical scary plot into something more is inviting. However, with films such as Evil Dead and A Simple Plan under his belt, it seems that The Gift could have been better than it is. Viewers are left with many questions, as well as a belief that, while they got their money's worth, this could have been an excellent film and not just a decent one.

To anyone looking for a night of fright, or those people who just love twists and turns, The Gift will more than likely satisfy. More specifically, Blanchett will satisfy. Then again, for those ultimate horror fans who wait patiently for the next big thing, keep waiting and leave The Gift for the amateurs.

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