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Gifted Review

""He's a good person. He wanted me before I was smart.""

Family is a word that can provide tears and smiles at the same time. Gifted provides a glimpse into the great love and pain that come at the hands of family. Proving that the both the great joy and color can come through the messiness of life. 

It is the first day of school in year one for Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) and she is not too excited about it. Her apprehension is not due to fear of school, but knowing that she will not be challenged. Her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) knows that his niece is gifted in mathematics, but he desires that she will lead the normal life of a child. Even with the objections of his neighbor and family friend, Roberta (Octavia Spencer), who sees this choice leading to more problems than solutions for the little girl, Mary heads to school. The repercussions come within moments of her arrival at school when her teacher realizes that she has a prodigy in her class. Miss Stevenson (Jenny Slate) strives to help her newest student into a program that will challenge her to grow her natural skills. Frank’s goal was to keep the seven-year-old out away from the controlling influences of his mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), which he blames for the ill-fated life and untimely death of Mary’s mother and his sister. With all of the intentions for the brilliant little girl being made evident, the fight for her future begins.

After all of the big budget spectacles of superhero adventures and franchises, it is a joy to see Chris Evans in a low-budget family drama. Partnered with the talents of Octavia Spencer and Lindsey Duncan, he proves that he can work with an ensemble that does not need spandex suits and superpowers to save the world. Teaming up with director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man series) who is no stranger to comic book storylines, this collection of talent delivers a simple and winsome story to cinemas. 

With whispers of Good Will Hunting and Hidden Figures, the fascinating world of mathematics provides a dramatic avenue for this production to travel. The point of difference from the celebrated films about maths is that this involves the future, care and custody of a young girl. McKenna Grace proves that she has the ability to carry the film alongside her adult co-stars and delivers a convincing, intelligent and emotional performance. The brilliance in her acting is that she manages to tap into the emotion of the situation, despite the evident brilliance of her character in a field that can be described us unemotional. 

Jenny Slate as “Bonnie” in the film GIFTED. ©20th Century Fox. CR: Wilson Webb.

The screenplay could be labeled as predictable because of the long-suffering central character who is discovered. Lindsey Duncan’s over the top viciousness is surprising, but she does provide the needed tension to propel the story forward. Even with the thematic lightness of the storyline, it does not take away from the appeal of the relationship between Events and Grace.  This can be seen in the courtroom dramas and depictions of family where the real character connections of Gifted provide the treasure worth finding.

Marc Webb has managed to show audiences that intellectual genius can be as much a burden in people’s lives, as it can be a gift. Connecting the real struggle that parents and families encounter at different levels throughout child-rearing, he provides a fresh spin on a familiar plight for parents. Webb’s narrative simplicity provides an entertaining, dramatic and heartfelt journey that is accessible for families and should be sought out by audiences.

Rating
7.5
Pros
  • Performances from Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace
  • Compelling storyline
Cons
  • Predictable conclusion

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Meet the Author

About / Bio
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Russell is an American ex-pat who has been transplanted in his new home of Sydney. He is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and the blog Russelling Reviews. He moderates events called Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com) which connects the film industry with the general public.

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