Gifted: Movie Review
PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive material
April 14, 2017
Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer
Fox Searchlight Pictures
In this April lull before the big summer movie season begins, Fox Searchlight Pictures is testing the waters with Gifted, a family drama helmed by Captain America himself.
From the director of The Amazing Spider-Man comes the story of a single man raising a seven-year-old math prodigy and the world of trouble that befalls them when her genius secret gets out.
Gifted benefits greatly from its quality cast, which includes Chris Evans, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, and an enchanting newcomer to film, Mckenna Grace (you might recognize her as the president's daughter on ABC's Designated Survivor).
Frank Adler (Evans) wrestles with how to parent Mary (Grace), not always convinced about what's truly best for her. And everyone else in their lives has an opinion too – from his landlord/friend Roberta (Spencer) to Mary's elementary school teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) to Frank's estranged mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who shows up demanding access to Mary so that she may guide her genius granddaughter to greatness.
Grace is a delight to watch as spirited young Mary. She and her cast mates elevate the movie beyond its predictability. Gifted isn't bad by any means. It's actually quite funny and overall good, but therein lies the disappointment. The film, like Mary – as Evelyn would say, has so much more potential.
And sure, it will shake you to your core, but not for the reasons you may think. Director Marc Webb and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh got a little shaky cam happy on this one. It's distracting. One scene between Frank and his custody lawyer is particularly shaky – to the point that it disengages you from the emotional moment they're having.
Another scene of note is one of Mary and Frank on the beach. She asks him to explain faith, God, and Jesus. His answers are interesting ones. He says he doesn't know if there's a God – and says that no one else really knows for a fact either. He goes on to say that faith is "a great thing to have, but faith's about what you think, feel not what you know." What about Jesus? Frank says he 'loves that guy' and tells Mary she should "do what he says." He ends the conversation by telling Mary that "one way or another we all end up back together in the end."
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, and some suggestive material, Gifted is a "family" movie not suitable for younger children. At one point, Evans' character adds a F-bomb to a list of foul words included in the movie's scripted dialogue. He's also seen passionately kissing his date and waking up in bed with her the next morning.
All in all, while it tells a touching story, Gifted's faults prevent it from becoming a truly special film.