Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Gifted is a prime example of how good a Movie can be when the focus is on the characters and story.
Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is raising his young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) after her mathematician mother passed away. Mary begins showing signs of a child prodigy at a very young age but Frank wants Mary to live a normal life as a child. So instead of enrolling her in a gifted school he enrolls her in a regular public school. Frank’s dream of Mary living a normal life starts slipping away when his mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), finds out about her granddaughter’s impressive mathematical abilities and wants to send her to a school for gifted children. This leads to Frank and Evelyn being pushed into a custody battle for Mary.
The best thing about Gifted is its amazing cast. Evans is at his best playing a single dad who messes up just as much as he gets it right. Evans carries the entire Film and he does it effortlessly and disappears into Frank completely. Then there is his chemistry with Grace. The chemistry is so authentic they seem as though they are uncle and niece in real life. Even apart from the chemistry, Grace is amazing to watch. And that isn’t only because she is adorable, but she’s an acting force to be reckoned with. She has the ability to understand the adult concepts within the Film which makes some of the more comical moments work in Gifted. And when the emotional low points of the Film come, she is the one audiences will be talking about. The supporting cast is just as great as its leads. Duncan is amazing as the cruel and at times caring Grandmother who wants the best for her Granddaughter. Jenny Slate is great as Mary’s teacher who sees her potential but also sees Frank’s wish for her to have a normal life. And Octavia Spencer is amazing as always as the supportive next door neighbour to Mary and Frank, who sees them both more as family then friends.
Tom Flynn writes a heartfelt script that will leave audiences effected. At times the writing can become a little melodramatic but for the most part it is true to life. Director Marc Webb seems to lean back and let the story and actors take control which is the main reason this Film works so well. It’s driven by character and story.
Overall, Gifted has a superb cast that care deeply for the message of the script. At times the script can border on melodrama but for the most part its just the right amount of sentimental to be believable. And when it hits the climax near the end there is not one heart that won’t be affected.
Fox Searchlight release GIFTED on Friday, April 7, 2017.