January 25, 2001

The Gift

Cate Blanchett once again submerges herself into character in this by-the-numbers Southern Gothic thriller.

giftWith a cast as talented as this, you'd hope for great performances and clever, inventive direction to match, but The Gift delivers on the first point only. Quality performances are subverted by a paper-thin script, hackneyed characters, and cheap thrills among the soggy South Carolina swamps. Blanchett stars as unemployed widow and mother of three with a 'gift' for precognition. A rich, fast, and loose uptown girl (Katie Holmes) goes missing, and Cate becomes entangled in the case- At face value, the crime is solved in fairly short order, but alas, nothing is at it seems. Fairly early on, it becomes clear why co-screenwriter (and Academy Award winner) Billy Bob Thornton chose not to direct this: the story is replete with cardboard cutout characters and clichéd scenarios. The battered wife (Hilary Swank) who refuses to leave her abusive husband (Keanu Reeves); the local-yokel cops who care more about the last éclair in the donut box than their work; the D.A. (Gary Cole) with a personal agenda and a secret to hide. At one point Blanchett says "If you don't find a way to re-open this case, I will!" and Blanchett just manages to avoid rolling her eyes. Ultimately, be disappointed that the film could not live up to the quality of the cast. Only A-list talent keeps this film out of C-list territory. (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)