The Gift (2000) – IMDb

‘The Gift’ is an understated, underrated thriller which succeeds in captivating one’s attentions from beginning to end. The film’s main strengths are its screenplay, its beautiful mise-en-scene, a strong ensemble cast and a haunting soundtrack (those of you who enjoyed ‘The Shipping News’ will recognise the composer from the lilting score of that film)

But perhaps ‘The Gift’s’ main attribute is the presence of the wonderful Cate Blanchett. Although I loved the film, I was forced to wonder if in the hands of a less capable actress, whether it would have had the same captivating power. Somehow I think not. Cate Blanchett’s restrained portrayal of Annie exudes compassion and tenderness, and is integral to the success of the film as a whole. Her sensitivity as an actress is important in relation to the subject matter – ESP and the occult – as these areas generally attract much scepticism. Blanchett, through her unique skill as an actress, manages to make the more fantastical elements of the story not only plausible, but intensely moving. She is luminous to watch, reminding me of the (also magnificent) Meryl Streep in terms of her quiet beauty, her range of expression and her adept skill at accent mimicry. Who could believe that she is Australian?

In short, ‘The Gift’ is well worth seeing, primarily for Cate Blanchett, but also for the supporting actors Keanu Reeves (very impressive and effective) Hilary Swank (underused) and the magnificent Giovanni Ribisi – who is both explosive and reticent as Buddy Cole. Also demanding attention is the imaginative screenplay, and the hauting beauty of the mise-en-scene which manages to be both beautiful and eerie at the same time. Overall, ‘The Gift’ is a resounding success, due mainly to the heart of the film – Cate Blanchett’s resonant performance. The actress has a unique gift herself, which richly deserves to be seen by many.

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