The Gift

Bomb Rating: 

I hardly need another reason to avoid the South, but this film provides it nonetheless. Does anybody even bathe south of, say, Louisville? Apparently, it's real work to find anyone in this part of the country who has an I.Q. above 100 -- and if that person does possess some measure of intelligence, it's counterbalanced by some freaky sideshow defect.

That's the case with the central character, Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), who is seen actually reading a book, thus indicating intelligence. However, she's also the town freak because she's has some sort of ESP, which is where the title comes from. Many of the town residents come to her for readings where she doles out pieces of useful advice such as "good men don't beat their wives" and "you need to figure out why you hate your father." Another seemingly smart character is the principal of Annie's kids' school, Wayne (Greg Kinnear), but it's quickly revealed that he's none too bright himself: He's about the marry the likes of Jessica King (Katie Holmes), who appears to be screwing every half-wit in town.

Among said half-wits are Donnie Barksdale (Keanu Reeves), who's beating the crap out of his wife (Hillary Swank), and Buddy Cole (Giovanni Ribisi), who's slowly realizing that his dad did something bad to him when he was younger. Annie gets to use her gift when Jessica goes missing, helping the police to find Jessica's half-naked (or, in South-speak, "nekkid") body at the bottom of a pond.

Director Sam Raimi might want to think about spending less time producing bad television and more time studying film technique. First of all, there's a huge red herring right in the middle of the film that suggests who the killer is not. The ending is just plain stupid. It's one thing to have a central character who's a seer. It's quite another to suggest that these mystical visions can take physical form and actually do things. If such things are really out there, why couldn't they divine Sam a finale that made some sort of sense?

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