Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg
Kinnear, Hilary Swank, Michael Jeter and Gary Cole
by: Samuel M. Raimi
here's a movie that takes a chance on its cast and succeeds. That
is to say, no type casting appears to have snuck in, so you have
no clue as to who dunitt five minutes into the storynot
unlike the brilliant horror film Seven's that chose to
leave the instantly recognizable badguypsycho's name Kevin
Spacey off the credits, thusly we had no idea what was up
till they wanted us to know. I love that.
Blanchett is one hell of an actress. She is deceivingly calm,
almost translucent. As Annie Wilson, the movie's woman with a
sixth sense, aka the gift, Cate's emotions rip through that calm.
At times she's so intense she's like a barracuda with its eye
set on a chunky tourist floundering about in the surf.
let me rant about the man who really owns this movie;
Mega under rated Giovanni Ribisi. Those who know of his perpetualy
perfect works make sure they're
at the opening night of anything with his name on the credits
(okay Other Sister faux pas asidebut
he was still good in that complete piece of film
sheet). For those who aren't familiar with this little dynamo
of thespian-isms, this is a super introduction. His portrayal
of disturbed volatile Buddy Cole is by far one of the finest performances
by any actor on film. Too strong an opinion...just go take
Bob Thorton and Tom Epperson penned this interesting tale of a
small town fortune teller who among her many gifts, gets
to have encounters with dead grandparents and pre and post homicidal
visions of the macabre. Yehaw! A gift best left under the tree
if you know what I'm saying. Eeerie. The characters are very well
crafted, no gaping holes in their celluloid soulsif at times
the women are unrealistically naive and the storyline a bit ennui.
For the most part the players are extremely believable. Of course,
the consummate actors breathing life into them helped a wee bit...
Gift's story goes...Annie Wilson (Blanchett) is a widower
who supports her boys with her special talent
of reading the townsfolks' futures. She has some friends. One
in particular is a sad mentally tortured man Buddy (brilliant
Giovanni) who begs Annie to help him from his recurring horrid
thoughts...and some then, less "friendly neighbor" sorts.
Like her client's husband who got that shining backwood's- redneck-rabid
pitbull-God fearin'-wife beatin'- beer drinkin'-truck pullin'
hypocrite squared personality, Donnie Barksdale. Sees' Don ain't
too happy with all Annie's satanic voodoo jive talkin' she's been
feeding the little Mrs.
likes to spar in a little one sided boxing with his Iggy
Pop- thin bride and skankfest , Valerie (Hillary Swank). Annie
advises Val she should get away from the wife beating pig. Of
course Uber idiot,Val, tells Donnie where she's
getting all these unchristian divorce thoughts...
there's the missing rich gal, Jessica King (Katie Holmes)...With
no leads, and only dead ends, her fiancé Wayne (a
delectable Greg Kinnear) and father come to Annie for a "reading."
Creep-o-rama. Annie obliges and the movies momentum really begins.
is one of the few films that you really wont know,
all along, who done it, where, and in the library with
Swank, as Valerie Barksdale, is absolutely fabulous as a common
Lynyrd Skynyrd groupie wanna be with a really dated hair doo.(No!
Not like in this photo...)
Reeves, as Donnie Barksdale, delivers another fine performance
as a big old psycho. I know he's the valedictorian of the Nicholas
Cage School of Acting (Motto: "One expression, is all
expressions"), but he's turning in some dark and interesting
multi-emotional performances...will the mediocre actors award
been won by another, less pretty man, from now on? Has he shed
his dude in a hot bod image...m'could be.
Kinnear, who just keeps the steady flow of impeccable performances-a-comin',
does yet another marvelous job. He's a mighty handsome guy to
boot. Jumping catfish he's a looker! Why never a nude scene..too
much to ask Hollywood? This man's a Sheppard's Pie of delicious
layers. A big old serving of comfort food... Yum-o-rama gals.
But a complaint on the film does spring to mind...Maybe writers
Thorton and Eppington should take a course like Real Woman101
before they co-write again. Because their "Annie"
did some plum dumb things. Annie, who has this supposed magical
instinct, was grossly idiotic with frequency. A great example
of one of those-never-in-a-million-years-would-any-mother-or-woman-be-this
darn-stupid things? She leaves her kids outside, at night,
alone, while all 98 pounds of her inspects their house.
A house that not only has the front door unlocked and
ajar upon their return, but someone has turned up the Jesus station
on their radio to full blast...presumably occurring while the
family was out. Women, in real life, would turn around immediately
and exit stage left.
The girlie-girl quintessential- horror- airhead scenes- aside,
it's an enjoyable chiller with more than a few surprises.
recommendation: Chocolate cake with lots of icing.