For such a name cast (including JK Simmons, Gary Cole, Giovanni Ribisi, and a dozen faces you’ll recognize immediately), and for being directed by such an accomplished director (Evil Dead, Darkman, Army of Darkness, The Quick and the Dead, Simple Plan, For Love of the Game, the Toby Maguire Spider-Man movies), The Gift is shockingly shitty. Maybe that’s because it was written by Billy Bob Thornton, whose success with Sling Blade is legendary and must have launched this, but who went nowhere else in writing, and isn’t that good at acting either. No, chalk this ghostly thriller up to fluff that audiences must have been interested in at the time, because it really sucks otherwise.
In a small town in Georgia, a poor single mother supporting her three sons gets by on what little money the insurance paid for her husband’s death in a workplace accident, as well as what she makes telling fortunes and reading tarot cards. Annie does have real talent, she’s not a sham, and her visions aren’t usually very fun to experience, but she does her best for the simple folk of the town, helping them through their problems as she can. When a young girl goes missing, the daughter of a rich man and the fiancee of the local principal, Annie is asked to give whatever aid she can, if her visions and feelings can help solve the case. And they do, the body of the girl is found, but that’s just the beginning of the story, and the start of Annie’s danger.
What a huge cast, and they all have little parts to play, so that was cool, seeing all these celebrities together, none of them doing that bad a job. What was awful about this film was the writing, the reliance on old ghost themes and cliches, dream sequences and jump scares; it was just poorly done, like it was a dumb amateur thinking he could be a good writer, which is exactly what it was. It’s just so typical and so unexciting, like something you’ve seen a thousand times before. And Cate Blanchett is a tough actor to explain; sometimes she’s just so overdramatic, so out of place, and I felt that way at times here, like this wasn’t made for her. Kinnear was solid, it’s weird to see Holmes as the little sex pot, the movie could have ended earlier and I would have been happier; it’s just hard to find bright spots to point at, they were dulled by the dumbest script.
My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆