By Thomas Simpson
Chris Evans takes a break from his Marvel duties to star in Gifted, an engaging drama about a young child prodigy who is torn between family members that each feel have what’s in her best interests.
Directed by Marc Webb who returns to his low budget roots after his own stint with superheroes, having directed the underwhelming The Amazing Spider-Man films for Sony.
Mary Adler (McKenna Grace) is a mathematical genius who exhibits signs of great intelligence at only age seven. Raised by her uncle Frank (Chris Evans), she also has poor social skills with other children and Frank believes that the best thing for Mary is to go to school and live a normal childhood. She struggles to adapt and it isn’t long before she attracts the attention of teachers which brings her Grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) and the battle for Mary’s wellbeing begins.
Gifted is a warm story that lacks any cinematic punch yet remains engaging and hits the right emotional beats. The script itself may be clichéd and at times display some Movie of the Week tropes yet it’s likable cast and great performances elevate it to the next level.
Evans portrayal of Frank is that of stoic and brooding, a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Writing him as Mary’s uncle rather than father presents different pitfalls for him and creates a unique custodial triangle that allows the script to explore curious emotional conflicts.
The standout performance is by Grace herself. The young actress is brilliant in the role of Mary, delivering her lines with a sardonic sass that’s mildly uncomfortable and wholly amusing. She isn’t afraid to portray Mary as the scared child she is, beyond the enhanced intellect there lies a vulnerable child. One that craves the love of family.
There are little surprises to be had in Gifted but it’s not a film that’s looking to keep you on the edge of your seat with thrills and twists, instead it looks to keep your attention with its charming and charismatic wit. Yes, it can get a little sappy at times but it will unashamedly make you care for Mary and Frank while not over playing the sentimentality that it’s sickening.
An alluring drama that will have you smiling throughout with some laughs along the way. Charming and amiable, Gifted offers a break from the blockbuster dominance of the cinema schedule.
Thomas is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.