The Gift (2000)

Genre: Thriller

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank

Synopsis: A town’s resident psychic gets involved in solving the murder of a local ho.

This was certainly an interesting watch. I remember when my family first got Sky (that’s the English version of cable TV) and this was always on the movie channels. I think I must have watched it at least 10 times, but that was about a decade ago. My brother told me that it had been uploaded to Netflix and I thought: ‘Hhhmm, I remember that being quite a good film! Maybe I should give it a watch and review it.’ I just want to say that I am so glad that my taste in movies has matured over the past decade. This movie isn’t terrible by any means; it certainly didn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out. However, The Gift lacks finesse and, although displaying moments of brilliance, follows a very predictable and obvious path. It’s a shame because the film had a very talented cast who are capable of so much more. Anyway, let me break it down for you.

This movie did a few things well. The first premonition scene, when the pencil rolls off the table and lands next to Katie Holmes’ zombie foot, was really good. It was graphic, weird, and sinister and it’s what I imagine having a vision would actually be like. Although it wasn’t as terrifying as Danny’s visions in The Shining, an appropriate tone was set and it made me feel quite tense. The mood was carried through when the local hillbilly, (brilliantly [but not really] played by Reeves) breaks into Blanchett’s house and leaves a message for her. I can honestly think of nothing scarier than a hillbilly version of Keanu Reeves breaking into my house and acting like a meth addict. As you can see, the movie sets the foundations for a good supernatural thriller well enough but it doesn’t last long.

What starts as quite an edgy thriller turns quickly into a paint-by-numbers romp. The identity of the killer came as no surprise and the whole ‘Giovvani Ribisi molestation side story’ was completely unnecessary and poorly dealt with. Plus, the twist at the end??? All I could think about was that scene in Friends in which Joey tells Chandler about his big break, and that aired a year before this was made! “Betsy’s been dead for 10 years…” I felt like banging my head against a wall.

Any strong foundation this movie had was also destroyed by the sledgehammer of lazy acting. Now, I’m not saying that the cast is lazy because that’s not true. There are some wonderful actors in this movie who are capable of putting in great performances…but it just felt like nobody took anything seriously. Katie Holmes was the worst. She basically walks into the room and is already like “Get all up in my cooch y’all!” She was clearly trying to escape the Dawson’s Creek squeaky clean image, and that certainly explains the boobs, but it all came off a little like a 12-year-old wearing make-up and a mini-skirt: unnerving and awkward. Also, Keanu really didn’t nail the whole ‘white supremacist hick’ thing and I don’t think he even bothered with the southern accent. Way to totally spoil the moment Keanu.

This film feels a little bit like a self-sabotage job which is a shame because it could have been quite a cool film. Maybe in the hands of someone else it would have worked better. Still, we all have off days so I won’t be too judgmental.

High-lights:

  • Creepy premonitions and some eerie moments.
  • Watching Katie Holmes scream: “DIE JOEY POTTER DIE!!!!” Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Downers:

  • Awful dialogue in places: “There’s a storm coming” “No Granny, it’s clear skies!” WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!?
  • “You ain’t no better than a Jew or a Nigger.” Oh dear Keanu.
  • That is not how you handle a child abuse story line.
  • “Betsy’s been dead for 10 years…” Goddamn it what a fucking cop-out.

Summary:

The Gift is, all in all, a mediocre film. It was interesting to revisit it though and I imagine that this is what a high-school reunion must be like: being provided an opportunity to see how much you’ve changed and matured. I’ll probably watch this movie again in a few years’ time when there’s fuck-all else on TV but, until that time, I’ve got bigger and better things to move on with.

5/10

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Filed under Meh, Thriller

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