There are more than just mathematical problems to be solved in Gifted
Frank had no idea how much his life would be affected when his sister turned up on his door step with a baby.Seven years after his sister Diane turned up on his doorstep with her baby daughter, Frank (Chris Evans), his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) and their one eyed ginger cat Fred are happily living a fairly simple, uncomplicated and pleasant life. Helping out with babysitting duties and all round general family life is their next door neighbour Roberta (Octavia Spencer). For the most part their lives seem content and stable. Everything changes though when Frank sends Mary to school for the first time after home-schooling her.Mary is not quite like other children her age - Mary is outspoken, brave and not to mention a child genius. Grace plays the part exceptionally well and it is so hard not to fall completely in love with her bright, wide eyes framed by incredibly long eyelashes and completely honest portrayal of Mary. On her first day of school, Mary’s teacher Bonnie, quickly realises the talent that lies within her new student which in turns sets of a series of events that has the potential to alter not only Mary’s life but Frank’s (and Fred’s) as well.
Eager for Mary to realise her potential as a maths genius the school principle reaches out to Mary’s grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) who also has a penchant for maths. Having been out of the picture for all of Mary’s life, Evelyn’s return opens some old wounds and sparks off a custody battle between mother and son, who each only want what’s best for Mary: Frank wants her to have a normal childhood while Evelyn wants her to pick up where her mother Diane left off, solving one of the mathematical problems of the millennium.
Gifted was not at all what I was expecting. It gets to the point fairly quickly and doesn’t mess around setting up unnecessary backstory but quite cleverly fits it in neatly within the main body of the narrative. It had every potential to be completely predictable and at times you do feel like you know exactly what it going to happen but director Marc Webb takes some very unusual turns along the way which for the most part keeps what could have been a very cliched and formulaic story engaging.
Gifted is a young, female Good Will Hunting that falls just shy of being equally as good
Grace’s performance is utterly believable in every scene and the more you get to know her character the more you can understand why the people around her are so enamoured with her. I did at times though feel like the film could have benefitted with a bit more shown from her point of view - but then again, I understand the film is predominantly focused on the grown-ups who are at odds with her gift and her as a child each wanting to give her best upbringing. The chemistry between Evans and Grace is clearly evident on screen with each complementing the other. There are a couple of really lovely and picturesque moments with just Frank and Mary that really indicate the close relationship and bond they share.
Evans’s Frank is described by one character as the ‘quiet, damaged, hot guy’ - which is befitting but doesn’t really do justice to his character. Playing a slightly more sensitive role Evans combines his softer side with a light hearted sarcasm which plays off of Grace’s Mary wonderfully. Lindsay Duncan as Evelyn is also good as the somewhat hard exterior British grandmother. It’s difficult to not like all the characters in this film as they are all played well and within the storyline are all trying to do what they think is best for this little girl caught in the middle.
Gifted is a sweet and touching film about an exceptional little girl and the impact she has on those around her; but it is also as much about childhood as it is about being a good person and trying to do what’s right. Even though it does fall victim to certain obvious cinematic traits it’s an enjoyable watch that will make you smile and just might even provoke a tear or two.
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