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The Gift (2000) is an Americanmarker movie, directed by Sam Raimi, written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson and based on the alleged psychic experiences of Billy Bob Thornton's mother.

It is a supernatural thriller, with the main character Annie (Cate Blanchett) becoming involved in a murder mystery as a result of her witnessing the crime with her second sight. Other major characters are played by Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank, and Katie Holmes. Wayne (Greg Kinnear) is the missing woman's fiancee.


The film is set in the fictional southern town of Brixton, Georgiamarker, where Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett) is the resident "fortune-teller."

Annie is a single mother with three sons, Mike, Miller and Ben, Jr.; as her husband Ben has died the previous year in a cable plant explosion. The film is set into motion when the school principal's fiancée, Jessica King (Katie Holmes), goes missing. Annie meets Jessica while in a conference with principal Wayne Collins (Greg Kinnear) over her eldest son Mike's (Lynnsee Provence) behavior, and receives a disturbing vision of Jessica during the conference.

Mike's behavior is borne out of subdued grief for his dead father (to whom he was very close) and his reluctant new role as the man of the house. His emotional hurts are further intensified when Annie seems to fail to take an interest in properly mourning her husband's death, presumably to establish a charade of strength that they no longer have now that her husband is gone.

As the search for Jessica begins, the local police and Jessica's father Kenneth King (Chelcie Ross) enlist Annie's help to see if she can come up with a possible answer. Annie is unable to produce a vision, largely due to the presence of Pearl Johnson (J.K. Simmons), the local sheriff who looks upon Annie's trade unfavorably.

After the uncomfortable meeting, Annie receives another vision that Jessica has been killed and then her body weighed down by a chain and thrown into a pond. She also sees a fiddle player in the vision; white lilies and a split-rail fence. She returns to Johnson with her findings, and with the information, Johnson obtains a search warrant.

Annie and the police show up at the home of Donnie Barksdale (Keanu Reeves), a man whose battered wife, Valerie (Hilary Swank), has been seeing Annie for counsel. Barksdale, angry at Valerie's seeing Annie, had threatened both her and her children in an earlier confrontation. Barksdale, who had not been home when the search was initiated, returns to find the police and Annie, whom he strikes in the stomach, winding her, before he is fended off with Johnson's gun. As police are ready to give up on the search after all they find is a discarded bicycle, they find the nude, blued and chained body of Jessica King. A hysterical Kenneth King rushes into the water, but his agitated state causes him to have a heart attack.

Donnie is then immediately arrested, screaming "Witch!" at Annie as he's dragged away. He then goes on trial for Jessica's murder. Motive is established when it's revealed that Jessica and Barksdale had an affair, and Jessica's reputation as being promiscuous is exposed in open court. The case against Barksdale is strengthened when a scratch to his forearm (which he falsely claimed earlier to be from a cat that he killed) is proven to be from Jessica during a confrontation at a local bar. Annie also takes the stand, and though her psychic testimony is ridiculed by defense attorney Gerald Weems (Michael Jeter in one of his final film roles), Donnie is eventually convicted and put in prison.

Throughout all this is the subplot of Buddy Cole's (Giovanni Ribisi) mental condition. Buddy harbors an intense hatred for his father, and consistently has fits of seemingly unprovoked rage, which he has taken out on Annie and Barksdale, the latter after Buddy witnesses Barksdale threatening Annie's middle son Miller (Hunter McGilvray). Buddy retaliates by smashing the SUV that Barksdale is riding in with a tire iron. Barksdale pulls a gun on Buddy, who drops the tire iron, pulls the gun barrel to his forehead and screams at Barksdale to shoot him. Barksdale, having enough problems with the local police over his repeated abuse of his wife and threats against Annie, pulls the gun away and drives off.

"If I look into a blue diamond, will I die?" Buddy asks Annie, but doesn't elaborate. Not being able to understand the nonsensical question, Annie abruptly shruggs Buddy off. The resultant confrontation causes Buddy to snap, prompting Annie to receive a hysterical phone call from his mother.

Buddy has his father bound to a chair, telling him he's going to pay for his sins. His hysterical mother tries to talk him out of it, but Buddy refuses, telling his mother that though she knew "it" was happening, she did nothing.

Buddy lights his father on fire, and as Annie tries to stop him, he forces her head to a blue diamond tattoo on his father's navel. "Look at it!" he screams. "Look at it!" It's revealed at this point that Buddy's father took advantage of his son's fragile mental state to force him into fellatio.

An ambulance arrives and takes Buddy's father away, while Buddy is taken to a mental hospital.

Later, Annie receives another vision saying that Donnie is innocent. She asks David Duncan (Gary Cole), the District Attorney, to reopen the case. Duncan refuses, but Annie counters that she will use evidence of her discovery of Duncan's own involvement with Jessica King (Annie had caught them making out in a closet while at a dance with her friend Linda) to force it open if necessary. Duncan offers her money to keep quiet, but Annie refuses, still wanting justice for Barksdale despite what he's done to her family.

After driving out to the pond that night with Wayne, she realizes that Wayne is the one that killed Jessica. He confesses to Annie that he was angry after he discovered that she was cheating on him at the bar where she had been carrying on with Donnie Barksdale.

Wayne attempts to kill Annie, knowing that she'll go to the police. But just as he is about to land a fatal blow with a steel flashlight, Buddy Cole shows up and knocks Wayne out.

Sitting in the car at the pond, Buddy, uncharacteristically calm, returns a handkerchief that Annie had lent him earlier, and tells her that she is the heart and soul of the town and for her not to stop doing what she's doing. The two drive to the police station with Wayne stowed in the trunk. Upon arriving, Annie tells Buddy that he's going to have to go back to the mental hospital, and Buddy acknowledges. He waits in the car while she goes inside to talk with Johnson, who explains that Wayne confessed.

When Annie explains to Johnson what happened at the pond, he informs her that Buddy Cole hung himself at the mental hospital earlier that day. She returns to her car to find Buddy gone. However, Annie still has her handkerchief that Buddy returned to her coming back from the pond.

The film ends with Annie and her children visiting the grave of her husband. Weeping openly for the first time, she locks in an embrace with all three sons, with Mike finally at peace knowing that his father is loved and is still missed.



Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 56% based on 116 reviews. The consensus was "the A-list cast can't prevent the movie from becoming a by-the-numbers whodunit with an ending that's all but unsatisfactory."

Box office


In popular culture

  • In the film Harold and Kumar the characters Goldstein and Rosenberg, watch 'Katie Holmes' topless scene.
  • In the cartoon, Dr. Tran and the Toy Cack, in which the grandmother repeatedly mentions how their current situation is "worse than that time I took off my top and got killed by Greg Kinnear".

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