The Gift (2001)
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Review Date: January 20, 2001
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Billy Bob Thorton and Tom Epperson
Producers: R. Tapert, T. Rosenberg, J. Jacks
Cate Blanchett as Annie Wilson
Keanu Reeves as Donnie Barksdale
Katie Holmes as Jessica King
A card-reading psychic woman in a small redneck town gets caught up in the middle of a murder mystery case in which her psychic readings reveal much about the details of said killing.
With all of the Internet hype regarding the unveiling of actress Katie Holmes' well...unveiling, you'd have to wonder what exactly the title "gift" was referring to (either way, a big thank you goes out to director Sam Raimi!). Incidentally, for my separate review of Katie Holmes' visual presentation, scroll down below. But childishness aside, let's talk about the movie at hand. This is an okay movie with a so-so story, fun characters and a really great cast which allow it to step up a notch. If you were here in my room right now, you would see me standing up and applauding Keanu Reeves for his performance in particular. Good God, man...whendja turn into an actor, dude?! Seriously though, I will pretend for a second that Keanu actually took a whiff of my review of him in THE WATCHER, in which I suggested that he change his look when he's going to play a different character than we're used to, so that the audience won't see "Keanu the movie star" as much as "Keanu the actor". It definitely worked in this movie so a special kudo goes out to him. Another major kudo is presented to the infallible Cate Blanchett, who holds much of this slow-paced movie together, and Giovanni Ribisi for convincing us that he's nuts...once again (he is acting, right?).

And the reason that I am talking mostly about the actors in this review is because the story is one that didn't really do much for me. Yes, the mystery of the killer was a good one, with pretty much everyone in town checked off as a suspect at one point or another, but as the end approached, I think it became more than obvious to anyone who was paying attention, who the culprit would be. I also didn't get much sense of originality from the story as a whole. A couple of the psychic's "dream" sequences were scary and boo-like, but other than that, the film offered very little in scares or thrills (if that's what you're expecting). In fact, it's actually a difficult movie to rate because I didn't hate it by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing in it was altogether memorable either (other than Reeves' performance). Even the director, Sam Raimi, who at one point in his career was known primarily for his camera acrobatics, seemed to have taken a backseat on this one (perhaps he was already prepping up for his next "little" movie called SPIDER-MAN). Overall, the film did provide a creepy, haunting feel, some solid performances and a semi-interesting mystery, but I can't really see how anyone could get overly excited about this movie. A good flick that'll probably go down easier on video and definitely not for the thrill-seekers.

Mini-Review of the "Katie Holmes scene":

The tension was mounting throughout this entire movie. When would the "scene" appear? When would we, as a united perverted audience, be able to partake in the twin peak wonders? Was Raimi gonna pull a veiled shot on our ass, or were we gonna get a "clean shot" of all the action? Many questions left unanswered. But it wasn't long before the many grumblers in the crowd, the very same people who stood in line overnight to see this grand event, were properly served the main course. The "money shot" had arrived and the painful months of waiting ever since the rumor broke on the Net were finally past. And with about fifteen minutes left in the film, and every other teenager in the crowd moaning over the lack of Katie's "katies", suddenly the gangly actress appeared on screen for a period of about 5-10 seconds, breasts fully exposed to the screen, and the hearts, and pants, of many a teen (and one adult, thank you very much). Their performances, in one word, were...splendid!

A "mixture of early Brando and late 80s DeNiro" is probably the best way to describe the two-some's exhibition, with a special shout-out going out to the "left one" in particular, who obviously must've studied with either Stella Adler or Lee Strassberg himself. Other audience members weren't as restrained as I was, sitting with jaw in lap, smiling from ear to ear, and some even violently crying out for more (Although we did eventually get The Arrow to settle down). I for one was glad that I waited to see the double twins on the big screen, and quickly sent in my deposit for the DVD, hoping that a closer examination of said can-cans would ultimately deepen my understanding of the material at hand. In fact, I vow to spend hours and days inspecting it over and over again, if I have to. But it wasn't until I was walking out of the theatre tonight, with my winter coat tied conspicuously around my waist, that I fully realized the importance of this one particular cinematic event. And as I came to grips with that very thought and brushed the slumbering tear from my cheek (that was a tear, wasn't it?), and thanked the God all-mighty, my wonder transformed into two smaller thoughts: the first had to do with how I was going to get rid of my woodie by the time I got home so that my girlfriend wouldn't pull a twenty questions on me and the second was how I was ever going to...get a life and grow up!!! Either way, the wait was over and my so-called "life" could finally go on.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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