Movie Review: “Gifted”
This is a story about a brilliant young girl named Mary (Mckenna Grace). She is a brilliant young mathematician who lives with her uncle Frank (Chris Evans). Frank does his best to give Mary a normal childhood but she does not have friends her age and her brilliant math skills do not go unnoticed at her school. When her teacher discovers her gift, she is offered a full scholarship at a private school that could challenge Mary and allow her to reach her full potential. Frank does not believe that this is what is best for Mary, while Franks mother wants Mary to reach her full potential and does not approve of Mary's quality of life with Frank. This puts the family at odds and asks an important question about what is more important in life. Should Mary get a normal childhood or should she be overworked to reach her full potential and possibly better the world. This is an interesting look on how to raise a genius.
The Pros & Cons
Chris Evans & Mckenna Grace (+10pts)
The Past (-2pts)
Pro: Parenting (+6pts)
This was an element that worked very well for this film. How do you raise a child genius? Both sides have their flaws but both make compelling argument. While I think the right answer falls somewhere between the opinions of Frank and Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), I liked watching two opposite extremes make their case. I also thought that Frank was a good parental figure because he seemed to have a well thought out answer to everything. At first, this bothered me. He seemed like a perfect parent which is something that bothers me in movies, but as the movie goes on, the movie gives a quick explanation for this. The movie also shows Frank make mistakes which is an incredibly important part in making the character relatable. This really hits home when Franks says what his greatest fear is. This movie has some minor issues but I think it nails parenting.
Con: Focus (-5pts)
I think this movie works best when it tries to argue both sides of the story and what is best for Mary. Watching Mary and her relationships with both Evelyn and Frank, it is clear that both want what is best for Mary but they have very opposing viewpoints on what that means. This movie is at its best when it is comparing these ideals but I think the movie had trouble creating an interesting plot that would be the vehicle for the comparison of how to raise Mary. The movie uses a custody lawsuit between Frank and Evelyn. I unfortunately felt as though the movie focuses too heavily on the lawsuit which ended up creating a predictable storyline.
Pro: Emotional (+5pts)
This was an entertaining drama that has some laughs and a few heart wrenching scenes that work really well. These scenes are memorabl, dramatic and will hit audiences in an impactful way. These scenes show Mary dealing with abandonment and the idea that no one truly cares about her. More importantly theses scenes show how Frank handles the situation. In one scene he handles it perfectly. I do not want to get into it too much, but I'll hint at you by saying "This is how it was when you were born". You will know what I mean if you see the movie. The movie also shows Frank mess up big time. I think all of these scenes work really well and I think audiences will really respond to it. These scenes are the most impactful parts of the movie by far.
Con: Evelyn (-5pts)
I really did not like how heavily Evelyn was vilified in this movie. I thought the actress, Lindsay Duncan, played the role and I think that Evelyn was very easily the "bad guy" of the film. My problem is with the fact that Evelyn was portrayed as the polar opposite of Frank. She basically saw Mary's happiness as a secondary goal and that Mary's primary focus should be math all day and every day. I think most people fall somewhere between Frank and Evelyn's viewpoints but I think most people will lean closer to Frank because of how extreme Evelyn's viewpoint was. I think the movie could and would have been so much better if it brought Evelyn's viewpoint to a somewhat more relatable place. Fully understanding both opposing sides is when a movie like this works the best, because it forces the audience to choose between two sides that they completely understand. This movie makes the choice easy.
Pro: Chris Evans & McKenna Grace (+10pts)
Arguably the most important part of the film, I thought Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace had good chemistry together. They worked well as child and parental figure. Pretty much nothing good, about this movie, would have worked if these two actors did not pull of the relationship between Mary and Frank. It was entertaining to watch them interacting with each other in scenes that would have been boring if the actors did not pull it off. I really enjoyed this movie and I believe that these two actors, and their chemistry together, are the main reasons why.
Con: The Past (-2pts)
The movie just kind of starts. There is not a whole lot of build up in the sense that the movie just starts with Mary and Frank together. There is no setup as to what happened to Mary's parents, how did Frank come to be her guardian or what happened to the rest of the family. The movie just kind of starts by showing Frank and Mary's relationship together. I appreciated this because the movie was not about the past, it was about Mary, Frank and the difficulties that come with raising a child genius. I enjoyed this aspect of the movie until all of the main characters are talking about the past or wondering about the past. It is fine if you ignore the past IF the movie does not focus on that. This movie ignores the past, then later, focuses on it heavily. This made me want to have seen it in the beginning of the movie. Did I think this significantly hurt the movie? No, I still very much enjoyed this one and every question (about the past) gets answered but the movie could have been much more impactful if the audience felt like they were there with the characters in the past as well as the present.
Grade: B- (84pts)
I really enjoyed this one. It has its issues but it is an emotional drama that challenges the relationship between niece and uncle, but also presents interesting questions on what is best for a child and how to raise a child genius. Sure the child in this movie is a mathematical genius but this is a movie that anyone can relate to (though I think it will especially hit home with parents). This movie deals with difficult life issues like guilt and abandonment while delivering and entertaining movie that is filled with heart. None of this would have worked if it were not for Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace. Both together and individually, they made this movie so easy to get into.
Whether you rush out to the theater to see this movie or wait for it on home video, I think this is definitely a movie worth watching.