Gift, The (2000) - Synopsis

Gift, The (2000)From a back room in her small Georgia home, Annie Wilson uses her telepathic talents to perform psychic readings for neighbours. A widow with three young children to support, Annie bears the cumbersome burden of carrying the town's problems on her shoulders while struggling with her own.

Annie's advice has a particularly profound effect on tormented car mechanic Buddy Cole (Giovanni Ribisi), with whom Annie has developed a relationship akin to a mother and son; and Valerie Barksdale (Hilary Swank), who seeks Annie's insight about her philandering husband, Donnie (Keanu Reeves).

Though Annie does her best to make her three boys Mike (Lynnsee Provence), Miller (Hunter McGilvray) and Ben (David Brannen) her priority, the needs of her desperate clients often prevail. When Valerie Barksdale's problems with her husband escalate, however, Annie finds herself in real danger. Annie advises distraught, black-eyed Valerie to leave her husband. Over the next few days, Annie becomes the target of threats and disturbing vandalism.

Soon after, Annie and her friend Linda (Kim Dickens) go out for a night on the town at the country club dance and run into Wayne Collins (Greg Kinnear), the principal at Annie's son's school, and his fiancee Jessica King (Katie Holmes).

At the dance, Wayne and Annie connect through mutual compassion, but before any real sparks fly, sexy Jessica has already extinguished them. Annie accidently witnesses Jessica having an affair with District Attorney David Duncan (Gary Cole) in a back room of the private country club.

Days later, Jessica disappears. With nowhere else to turn, and sensing her "gift" may indeed hold some validity, Wayne and Jessica's father, accompanied by local authorities, ask Annie for help in solving the case. At first, Annie is unable to provide any clues. As time goes on, she is plagued by increasingly disturbing nightmares and images. Annie's visions effectively lead police to a pond owned by volatile local Donnie Barksdale. A body is found. Donnie is arrested for murder.

As the star witness at Donnie's murder trial, Annie is called to testify about her specific, vivid visions of Jessica's disappearance. She is ill at ease on the stand, where her "gift" is mocked by defense attorney Gerald Weems (Michael Jeter). Her testimony that Jessica was involved with Donnie the night of her disappearance is damning. Barksdale is ultimately hauled off to jail.

Even with Donnie Barksdale behind bars, life in Brixton continues to be unsettling. First, Buddy's past ignites his present in a horrific scene at his parents home where even Annie's intervention cannot dissuade Buddy from taking revenge on his father. He is ultimately taken into custody. Annie is continually revisited by powerful, baffling visions that increasingly point to the fact that Donnie, although violent and vengeful, is not the man who killed Jessica King. Kept awake at night by visions of her own death at the hands of the real killer, Annie tries to persuade a reluctant District Attorney Duncan to reopen the case.

The supernatural becomes terrifyingly real when Annie's "gift" becomes her only hope to save herself and her family. Annie must not only figure out who killed Jessica King, but stop the real killer before she becomes his next victim.