A compelling, genuinely intriguing, very well-acted mystery/thriller
Cate Blanchett's performance alone make this solid thriller worth watching.
I saw her in this movie, and I became baffled as to why she wasn't
considered for an Oscar nomination. She carries this film on her
and never once budges. Not only does she totally get rid of her Australian
accent and perfectly don a Southern accent, but she gives a deep, powerful
performance as the innocent widow, Annie Wilson, who is looked down by many
in her community but simply wants to share her psychic gifts with her
willing clients. Blanchett communicates great emotion with a simple facial
Of course, I also have to give it up for the multi-talented supporting
Though most of them, with the exception of Hilary Swank, couldn't really
nail down the Southern accent, they are absolutely terrific. The only
I felt was miscast was Katie Holmes. Not only is her accent phony and
over-the-top, but she just seems too young and innocent for the role.
Giovanni Ribisi, on the other hand, is a revelation. I knew, ever since
breakthrough performance in "Suburbia," that he had great promise as an
up-and-coming actor, but in "The Gift" he delivers his most powerful
performance up-to-date. I would even argue that he deserved an Oscar nod.
He constantly stirs up sympathy in his audience, despite his mental
instability and momentary outbursts of anger. I was also extremely
impressed with Keanu Reeves, who delivers a genuinely haunting performance.
It's times like this where I just can't fathom why many people still insist
on picking on Keanu, regarding him as dull and cardboard. Personally, I
thought he was great ever since his emotional performance in "Permanent
Record." But he better demonstrates his versatility as an actor as the
abusive Donny. He made his debut, as a villain, in the throwaway thriller
"The Watcher," but I found him much more haunting in this role. Plus, he
sports a rugged look, totally shedding his pretty-boy image. Greg Kinnear
is good and subtle, and Hilary Swank continues to flaunt her brilliant
acting abilities as the vulnerable wife of Donny who constantly takes
beatings from him, yet still maintains her love for him.
The story is very intriguing, revolving around a cast of colorful
characters. This isn't a "scary" movie as it somewhat looks in the
previews, but it is full of mystery and thrills, without cheaply going for
shock value. There is a nifty twist at the end, which is credible and not
thrown from left field, but the plot isn't packed with surprises. We're
simply going along on an emotional journey, through the mind of our
protagonist, Annie, and that's how the tension is created. Sam Raimi
creates a haunting mood and Billy Bob Thornton wrote a fine script. The
story is easy-to-follow, and not as mind-bending as some of these other
supernatural thrillers. Just keep in mind that this is not a horror movie.
But it's a good mystery and a good mood piece and a damn good film
My score: 7 (out of 10)
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