Read for Me
The Gift
Review by Ross Anthony

This ESP thriller starts off sluggishly, but opens up when Giovani Ribisi brings a crowbar to it at the end of the first third. Even before that, Ribisi's performances stand out against the bland acting and first act scripting of this "B" film. Greg Kinnear, though normally very good, is also bland. Hilary Swank gives her rather weak character some strong depth, but lead Cate Blanchett doesn't start to rock and roll until mid-film.

Annie Wilson (Blanchett) has "the gift" of seeing things (as in dreams) that will happen or have happened someplace else. But for some reason, she still needs cards ... and a candle seems to help too. Can she provide direction when one sexy citizen of this small town shows up missing? Her deceased (we can assume) grandmother pays her a visit to remind her to follow her instinct. Annie turns away, and then back (and then ... what the?) gram is gone. It's the first of many spooky movie cliches. The flooded bathtub, dripping sink faucet, wind-squelched candles, googly-eyed corpse, old tire dragged from the pond, fingers reaching ever closer to the weapon scenes all occur later as the film unfolds. Unfortunately, barely fifty percent of the chilling suspense is actually chilling.

But Ribisi is great. And you know what? Both lawyers are fantastic, and I just love the sheriff. The dialogue, especially in the "courtroom drama," (middle third of the film) is crisp and meaty ... some very sweet scenes there.

Too bad Annie's motivations are kind of screwy. How and when she decides and doesn't decide to go to the police doesn't quite compute for a woman who has a family to consider. But the picture climaxes well enough and did I mention Ribisi is fantastic?

  • The Gift. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Greg Kinnear, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes, Michael Jeter, Kim Dickens, Cary Cole, J.K. Simmon, Chelcie Ross.
  • Directed by Sam Raimi.
  • Written by Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Efferson.
  • Produced by James Jacks, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi at Alphaville/Lakeshore/Paramount Classics.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:09:59 PDT