With great power comes great responsibility, so says Uncle Ben. Little do people realize that the saying goes not only for those who wield said power but also for their guardians; especially if the former is still a child.
That's what Gifted explores. After the suicide of celebrated mathematician Diane Adler, her daughter Mary (McKenna Grace) is left in the care of her brother, Frank (Chris Evans), a single man who repairs boats to pay the bills. Mary happens to be a math genius herself, and Frank has taken it upon himself to home school her. That is, until he decides to enroll Mary for first grade at a public elementary school.
While Frank hopes that things will run smoothly on Mary's first day, the child does the exact opposite. Not only does she impress her math teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) in Addition, Multiplication AND Calculus, but she also rudely talks back at the school principal.
the child's talent, the principal offers Frank a scholarship for Mary at a
school for gifted children. Frank refuses; deciding that Mary should live her
life normally like any child would. Things get more complicated when Evelyn
Adler (Lindsay Duncan), Mary's grandmother, comes into the picture. She
represents the other side of the spectrum, thinking Mary should grow up in an
environment where her genius is nurtured. A custody battle ensues, with both
sides only wanting the best for Mary.
If there is anything to look forward to, it's Frank and Mary's shared scenes. Be it heartwarming banter or a tear-jerking moment, their scenes are the highlights of the movie. It's always fascinating to watch a kid give smart-ass answers to an adult, but Frank's wisecracking seems to level Mary's sometimes pompous attitude. A particular moment that I really enjoyed seeing was when the two were having a conversation about whether or not God exists, shot on the backdrop of a sunset.
You can dismiss the other supporting characters though, since they don't contribute much. Bonnie's romance with Frank was unnecessary and the movie can do without Octavia Spencer's character Roberta, who is Mary and Frank's next door neighbor.
the other hand, I love how Evelyn was written. Although she serves as the story's
main source of conflict, the film does a great job in explaining her
motivations. You're not supposed to totally hate her, but to try and understand
where she's coming from. If it weren't for Lindsay Duncan's stern and
unwavering performance, this 'villain' could have gone horribly wrong.
Meanwhile, seeing Chris Evans in a role that doesn't involve a star-spangled spandex suit is quite refreshing. It's nice to know he has more acting chops than being a dude who beats up supervillains with a shield, and proves that having Captain America in a feel-good drama isn't bad at all.
McKenna Grace is the real star of this show, though. Usually, child actors can come off as annoying and whiney (case in point: young Anakin Skywalker), but McKenna delivers with such grace and charm that you would think she's had plenty of experience in acting. She is damn adorable and you can't help but chuckle at every scene where she says the darndest things.
Even if I don't fancy too much melodrama in my movies, the premise of Gifted is enough for me to recommend watching it. This story is worth telling as it portrays the difficulties and dilemmas of caring for a child prodigy. Plus, when you're this invested in the characters, watching the movie is an easy experience.ÃÂ