Projections - Movie Reviews

The Gift The Gift

The Gift gives insight to Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett); it also strikes back when she misinterprets her psychic visions.

Cate Blanchett is no longer a queen as she was in Elizabeth, but she is known in the town of Brixton, Georgia as the queen of visions.  Her many customers include Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank), a young woman married to abusive Donnie (Keanu Reeves), who burns rubber with his pick up truck and threatens Annie's son when she advises Valerie to get away.  Buddy Cole (Giovanni Ribisi) speaks to her of a blue diamond and hate for his father as he repairs her car door.

When Annie's son Mike (Lynnsee Provence) is in trouble at school for fighting she meets school Principal Wayne Collins (Greg Kinnear) who is engaged to sexy and clingy Jessica King (Katie Holmes).

All of the characters are drawn into a brutal murder which occurs at 1:20 AM the night of a country club dance attended by Annie as her first night out since her husband, who did not listen to her warning of danger, was killed in an industrial accident a year before.

Director Sam Raimi has solid material to work with.  Annie is filled with guilt and her kids remain angry over the death of their father.  Buddy Cole is filled with anguish when the hate of his father fills his head.  Valerie has typical guilt feelings when her husband punches her around.  Along with the inner turmoil of the principle characters Valerie's visions are frightening, sudden and darker as time passes.  The disappearance of Jessica brings Valerie to the center of an investigation precipitated by her visions which prove to be true.  They also place her and her children in danger as a certain faction in the small town begins to call her a witch.

Billy Bob Thornton's screen writing has a feeling similar to the powerful A Simple Plan.  It creates complexities, tensions and situations which Annie calmly appears to accept as we silently scream warnings to her.

But even with a exceptional cast and an interesting, though transparent script, Raimi misses opportunities by extending scenes of danger far beyond our patience.  His timing as we watch Annie in danger, reaches a point were we want to push her along and get the scene over with.  At the same time the circumstances she is faced with can raise the hair on the back of our neck.

Beyond the frustration, this is a remarkable thriller and we can't help jump, fear and hope for Annie as she fights for the truth, sanity and her own safety, in a world that is frightening enough to be real.

The Gift

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