Sheriff Pearl Johnson: Miss Wilson, I don't believe in what you do. I'll just be straight with you. Not only that, I don't like it. But, we've got to the end of the road of our investigation... and looked under every rock there is to look under... and we'd like you to tell us what you can to help us.
A quality mystery thriller, with a bit of a supernatural element thrown in, from director Sam Raimi. Supported by a good story, Raimi makes this film effective through the use of setting up many good suspense and dramatic scenes, along with stocking this film with a great cast of character actors.
Set in the South, Cate Blanchett stars as Annie, a widowed, single mother, looking after her three boys, following her husband's death a year prior. Annie makes money through social security and a gift that she has. Her gift lets her see elements of the future and town residents come to visit her to hear there possible future or fortune.
Among her clients include Giovanni Ribisi as an unstable mechanic and Hilary Swank as a women constantly beaten by her hillbilly husband, played by Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character has many problems with Annie's profession and begins to make threats to her and her family.
Donnie: She's a God damn witch! She's putting spells on every-damn-body in town!
These elements link to the main plot, which involves the disappearance of Katie Holmes character. She plays the daughter of the rich family in town, who was engaged to the school principal, played by a very likable Greg Kinnear. Annie is asked by the town sheriff, played by J.K. Simmons, to use her gift to try and find the missing girl. This leads to Reeves' character's possible guilt, but someone else may be at fault.
Buddy: You have to tell me, and you have to tell me now.
Annie: I'll tell you, hun.
Buddy: If I look into a blue diamond, and I think a negative thought, am I gonna die?
Annie: No, you're not gonna die. You're not gonna die, Buddy.
There are a few problems I have with this story, one mainly deals with a courtroom drama sequence that involves rival lawyers played by Gary Cole and Michael Jeter, however the quality of the performances throughout this film make everything worthwhile.
Blanchett is very good in the lead. Kinnear, like I mentioned, makes his character quite likable. Swank's character is irritating, but necessary. Holmes isn't in the film too long, but she's perfectly acceptable. Supporting work from Simmons, Cole, and Jeter is always welcome. One of the most surprisingly good performances comes from Keanu Reeves. He plays a role against type, yet seems perfectly suited towards. He is effective, menacing, yet somewhat layered. The best performance however, comes from Giovanni Ribisi. His character just works in this movie. Its not over the top, its just right for the character he has. Ribisi has always been an actor I like seeing in various supporting roles, and he does so very well once again.
Raimi's work here as a director is strong as well. He creates an atmospheric mystery that maintains a solid tone without dipping into camp. There are a few instances where a higher budget may have certainly benefited (it may work for Evil Dead, but not here), though these instances are forgivable.
While towards the end, one possible reveal may seem obvious, a final twist did make me enjoy the film as a whole even more. Quality picture.
Wayne Collins: Is there anything you can tell us?
Annie: I can read for you. But that's about all I can do.