Gifted

"Excellent"

Gifted Review


This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy sentimentality, making us a little nervous about where it might go. But director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) holds his nerve, letting the emotions build without ever tipping over into melodrama. What emerges is a striking exploration of the tricky connections between parents and children and the importance of makeshift families. And it's so sharply played that it can't help but move us.

It's set in rural Florida, where the quietly intelligent Frank (Chris Evans) is hiding out from his academically minded mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), trying to give his 6-year-old niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) the free-spirited childhood his late sister wanted for her. Their life includes sassy neighbour Roberta (Octavia Spencer) and a one-eyed cat named Fred. But Mary is a mathematical prodigy, and her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) is worried that the public school can't keep up with her. This alerts Evelyn to Mary's gifts and, after taking no interest before, she sweeps in with a legal challenge to Frank's custody. Like her daughter and granddaughter, Evelyn is also a maths genius, and believes that Mary's abilities need to be exploited in a higher-class educational environment.

While the argument about what's better for this little girl is fairly simple, Tom Flynn's script never lapses into the usual trite courtroom drama. And while there are a lot of formulae scribbled on white boards, the focus is always on the people rather than the numbers. Thankfully, these characters also never turn into heroes or villains; each is just trying to do what they think is best. This means that the actors can invest unusual depth into the roles, adding surprisingly sharp edges while revealing their softer sides as well. Evans has rarely had a chance to flex like this as an actor, and he's terrific, creating some powerful chemistry with the, yes, gifted Grace.

Chris Evans and Grace Mckenna in Gifted

The strong focus on the people rather than the legalities of the situation makes the movie far more emotionally engaging than expected. So even when the plot begins to take some rather contrived twists and turns in the final act, we're willing to go with it. So while some key characters (like Mary's biological father) appear briefly then inexplicably vanish, the central figures are likeable enough to hold the attention. These are flawed people in a messy situation just trying to work out the details. And it's inspiring to be reminded of the importance of respect and understanding.

Watch the trailer for Gifted:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Box Office Worldwide: $22.9M

Budget: $7M

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, FilmNation Entertainment, Dayday Films, Grade A Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Andy Cohen, Karen Lunder

Starring: as Frank Adler, Mckenna Grace as Mary Adler, as Evelyn Adler, as Bonnie Stevenson, as Roberta Taylor, as Greg Cullen, as Pat Golding, as Kevin Larsen, as Bradley Pollard, Jona Xiao as Lijuan, John Finn as Aubrey Highsmith, John M. Jackson as Judge Edward Nichols, Candace B. Harris as Carly Rosen, Kelly Collins Lintz as Claire Larsen, as Seymore Shankland, Brody Rose as Ricky Harmon

Also starring:

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