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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Gift is a 2000 movie in which Cate Blanchett plays a psychic living in the Deep South who begins to have nightmarish visions concerning the recent disappearance of a young bride-to-be. The violence alone makes this something best for older teens and older -- graphic depictions of domestic violence, of a man who ties up his father to a lawn chair in his backyard while whipping him with a belt as he screams of how the father sexually abused him as a young boy before he douses the father in gasoline and lights a match, a young boy is threatened by a violence-prone man while walking down the street before he witnesses another man attack a truck with tire iron before the violence-prone man in the vehicle pulls a gun and puts it to the tire iron-wielding man's head, who begs him to pull the trigger and kill him. There is also nightmarish imagery -- the psychic has dark visions of the woman's naked dead body. The woman who disappears is shown to be sexually promiscuous -- including a scene where she is shown having sex in a country club restroom. Brief topless female nudity. The lead antagonist tells the psychic that she is, "...no better than a Jew or [N-word]." A tween asks his mother what the f-word means. Lots of profanity, including "f--k" and "motherf--ker."
What's the story?
In THE GIFT, Cate Blanchett plays Annie Wilson, a widow from rural Georgia who has the gift of second sight. She supports her three sons by doing readings with cards, so she hears a lot of problems and secrets. Her clients include Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank), a battered wife, and Buddy Cole (Giovanni Ribisi), a troubled garage mechanic. The local belle, Jessica King (Katie Holmes), disappears, and her father, her fiancé, and the police ask Annie if she can help them find her. Annie sees nothing at first, but later she is able to lead them to a pond on the property of Valerie's abusive husband, Donnie (Keanu Reeves). Annie's testimony helps to convict Donnie, but then she begins to get visions that lead her to believe that Donnie was not the killer.
Is it any good?
Director Sam Raimi is a master of horror and suspense who knows how to make the bayou trees hang down ominously and the heavy mist and mournful violins prickle the hairs on the back of your neck. While the plot is a little predictable, first-class atmosphere and performances make it a superior entry in the horror genre.
Cate Blanchett is quietly moving and completely convincing as a woman who is at times more at home with her second sight than with her first. Giovanni Ribisi gives great depth and humanity to the part of the troubled mechanic who sees Annie as his only friend. Keanu Reeves struggles to appear menacing, but manages to do better when he has to testify in the murder case. Katie Holmes shows her ability to create a complete character with the toss of her hair as the glossy Veronica to Annie's Betty.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people go to see Annie. It seems that they care more about being listened to and heard than about hearing what she has to say. Do you believe in psychics? Why or why not?
How does this movie address topics like single parenthood, sexual abuse, and domestic violence against women? Did it seem to offer any solutions, or did any solutions seem feasible in a community such as this one?
Movies set in specific regions of the country often have "stock character" types who appear time and time again -- corrupt police officers, for instance, or alcoholic men who abuse their families. What Deep South stock characters were in this movie?