The Gift

2000

The Gift

Critics Consensus

With a reported budget of around 10 million, The Gift is obviously a labor of love for those involved. Unfortunately, the A-list cast can't prevent the movie from becoming a by-the-numbers whodunit with an ending that's all but unsatisfactory.

57%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 119

55%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 50,961
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Movie Info

Annie, a young recently widowed mother of three, lives in Brixton, Georgia and supports herself by giving psychic readings. The narrow-minded townspeople shun her for her gift of psychic vision. When Valerie drops in for a reading, Annie advises her to leave her abusive husband. Soon, Annie finds herself in danger as the body of a woman is found and investigators turn to her for help. Slowly, the dark secrets of this rural southern town are exposed and Annie's 'gift' becomes her only hope of saving herself and her family.

Cast

Cate Blanchett
as Annie Wilson
Keanu Reeves
as Donnie Barksdale
Katie Holmes
as Jessica King
Giovanni Ribisi
as Buddy Cole
Greg Kinnear
as Wayne Collins
Hilary Swank
as Valerie Barksdale
Michael Jeter
as Gerald Weems
Rosemary Harris
as Annie's Grandmother
Gary Cole
as Duncan
J.K. Simmons
as Sheriff Pearl Johnson
Chelcie Ross
as Kenneth King
John Beasley
as Albert Hawkins
Lynnsee Provence
as Mike Wilson
Hunter McGilvray
as Miller Wilson
David Brannen
as Ben Wilson
View All

Critic Reviews for The Gift

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (51)

  • There's really just one reason to see the Southern freak show that is Sam Raimi's The Gift, and fortunately it's the best reason: to watch the star of the piece.

    Jan 19, 2001
  • 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.

    Jan 19, 2001 | Rating: 4/4
  • Raimi's latest picture, The Gift, looks like an attempt to create a classier version of the kind of horror movie that established his reputation nearly two decades ago.

    Jan 19, 2001
  • Uneven and conventional.

    Jan 19, 2001 | Full Review…

    John Anderson

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • The movie has an impressive cast. Blanchett is a terrific actress who deserves better than this.

    Jan 19, 2001
  • Unfortunately, Raimi and Thornton -- who collaborated as director and star on the genuinely creepy A Simple Plan -- have only enough material this time to sustain half a movie.

    Jan 19, 2001

Audience Reviews for The Gift

  • Feb 21, 2016
    Expansive cast. Giovanni Ribisi performs the best while Keanu enjoys a role alot different to the usual type of character he ends up playing.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Sep 20, 2014
    "Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit; it was now Mid-August, which meant he had been separated from Marsha for more than two months. Two months, and all he had to show was three dog-eared letters, and two very expensive long-distance phone calls." Man, that is a weird song, as well it should be for a song by The Velvet Underground, although INXS' "The Gift" was kind of weird, too, at least for INXS, so I don't reckon there's any doing anything titled "The Gift" without things getting rather surreal. Billy Bob Thornton must have known that, because this film is something of a passion project of his, but rather than direct it himself, he gets Sam Raimi to tell everyone a story inspired by Mama Thornton's alleged psychotic-I mean, "psychic" abilities. The film is about extrasensory powers and criminal investigations with more than a few supernatural twists, but about as much as it's a Sam Raimi thriller, it's Raimi's superhero film between "Darkman" and "Spider-Man", "Psychic Woman", complete with Rosemary Harris and J.K. Simmons. This still may not be quite as over-the-top of a female-led Raimi film as "The Quick and the Dead", but it's cast sure is over-the-top, featuring Gary Cole, Michael Jeter, Hilary Swank, Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Cate Blanchett and, just for the heck of it, Danny Elfman. Man, this is an awesome cast... even with Keanu Reeves, but the film itself, while it's plenty decent, it has its issues, and even a few contrivances. Actually, contrivances are among the least of this film's worries, being somewhat rare, but still very much present, found in occasions of overstylization, and more than a few moments of atmospheric bloating that stress dramatics and tensions rather tritely. The genericisms don't end there in this potentially refreshing, and ultimately formulaic supernatural and whodunit mystery thriller, succumbing to predictability, no matter how much focus is lose in an onslaught of layers. Now, there are just too many branches in this narrative, which deals with some redneck threatening the lead and her loved ones (People like him are why there should be leniencies on murdering dirtbags), various cases taken on by the lead as a psychic, a murder case, and all sorts of other stuff, and is plenty interesting through and through, to one degree or another, but excessive, jarring from layer to layer in a convoluted and incoherent manner. The layers eventually converge into a singular narrative, but they take a long, long time to connect, and once they do, there are still plenty of loose ends that don't do much to provide a sense of punctuation in this nearly unfocused thriller whose aimlessness is exacerbated by other bloatings in storytelling. If the film isn't bloated with material, then it is bloated with filler, dragging along at a meandering clip that is made all the slower by a directorial thoughtfulness from Sam Raimi that is pretty effective pretty often, but doesn't have enough realized material to draw upon with subtle effectiveness. The film gets to be kind of dull, and I didn't really expect that, not necessarily because I was expecting this to be colorful, like the usual Raimi affair, but because I wasn't expecting there to be so much taste in Raimi's efforts, which reflect an inspiration that could have maintained and almost secures a reward value, but loses resonance amidst all of the conventions, overblown writing, and problematic pacing which hold the final product back as rather underwhelming. Nevertheless, I don't feel that the film falls quite as flat as many say, having plenty of solid strengths, and a couple subtle, largely aesthetic ones. Christopher Young's score is underused in this largely quietly intense thriller, but when it does come into play, rather than resorting to cloying strikes and stings, it falls into sober formulas that, while familiar, are aesthetically impressive as experimental classical pieces, and piercing in the context of an intense atmosphere. Young's score is solid, when utilized, and Jamie Anderson's cinematography is also striking, when really played up, but their place in the storytelling is defined by the efforts of director Sam Raimi, whose scares sometimes rely on forced jump spooks and other contrivances, but often thrive on genuinely disturbing imagery, and an effectiveness in an subdued atmosphere that is frequently blanding, but has its realized moments that are truly engrossing. In a lot of ways, this is a misguided, somewhat overambitious thriller, but in a few key areas, it's pretty smart, with Raimi finding revelatory moments in his handling of this relatively major dramatic turn that do decisive justice to subject matter which is admittedly deserving of inspiration, maybe even ambition. This story isn't especially unique, and it is excessively branched something awful, being incoherent and convoluted, but by no means short on sound potential, for each one of these many layers carry intrigue deriving from dramatic significance, thematic weight, thrills, and so on and so forth, carrying a potential for compellingness that is fulfilled in glimpses by Raimi, and an even more flawed script. Tom Epperson and Billy Bob Thornton turn in a script that either does too much or doesn't do enough, falling into tropes, inconsistencies and dragging, but only between heights in the scripting that really do craft some suspenseful set pieces and a few surprises, as well as well-rounded characterization which sells the motivations of the characters as best it can, while the characters are sold the rest of the way by their portrayers. The film boasts a richly talented all-star cast, whose secondary standouts include Greg Kinnear, a surprisingly effectively antagonistic Keanu Reeves (I liked the performance, but one of the big disappointments of this film is that the character doesn't die an immeasurably excruciating death), and the absolutely phenomenal Giovanni Ribisi, who steals the show every time he steps onto the screen, with a devastating emotional intensity and sense of nervousness and unpredictability, as an unstable and lonely man trying to find the source of all of his unbearable pain, that makes his segments, no matter how forced, one of the most compelling in a film that is always carried by the great Cate Blanchett, who nails, not only a southern accent, but a sense of burden as a woman given a gift that can help people and expose terrible things, while bringing to her doorstep dangers and fears that are interpreted with a human vulnerability, and enough of a sense of strength to make a worthy protagonist whose portrayal may be more than what this film deserves. The acting is not simply the most consistently effective aspect of the film, but strong across the board, so much so that it plays an instrumental role in bringing the final product to the brink of a rewarding state is ultimately lost amidst a number of fatal errors, but caught in enough glimpses to engage the patient adequately. Once the vision has faded, dramatic effectiveness finds itself shaken up a bit by a few contrivances, and a certain predictability deriving from conventions in the telling of an excessively layered, perhaps even aimless story, whose momentum is further shaken by draggy spells and a blanding atmospheric dryness that ultimately secures the final product as underwhelming, but just barely, for there is a plenty of intrigue to this story concept that is done enough justice by highlights in direction which utilizes haunting score work by Christopher Young and striking style and visuals to resonate, and in well-characterized writing, as well as by an across-the-board strong cast, - from which the phenomenal Giovanni Ribisi and the film-carrying Cate Blanchett stand out - to secure Sam Raimi's "The Gift" as a reasonably compelling, if ultimately misguided supernatural dramatic thriller. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2013
    From director Sam Raimi comes the paranormal thriller The Gift. When a socialite from a rich family goes missing her father turns to a local psychic to help solve the case. Featuring Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes, and Keanu Reeves, the film has an all-star cast. But, the characters are one-dimensional and poorly developed. Additionally, the script is rather weak and slow paced. Yet, Raimi's directing brings an air of mysterious and suspense to the film that helps to engage the audience. By and large The Gift is a stereotypical thriller, but it's entertaining and full of intrigue.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2011
    Mediocre Supernatural Thriller, a good cast of actors
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer

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