Gifted – Review

Predictable, nonetheless heartwarming tearjerker.

500 Days of Summer, seemingly now loved by teenagers and adults alike, was a both idealistic and raw look at relationships; quirky, funny and poignant. Director Marc Webb, bouncing back into drama after his Spidey outing, should land on his feet, but falls foul to melodrama in a family drama that tries to combine elements of classics like Good Will Hunting and Kramer vs. Kramer.

Frank (Chris Evans), a former professor turned boat repairman, looks after niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) after the suicide of his sister. Mary happens to be a child genius, but in an effort to keep her from the pressures that drove his sister to death, he sends her to a normal school. However, grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) sees wasted potential.

© – Fox Searchlight Pictures

There’s enough shots of Frank and Mary hugging in the trailer alone to fill a photo album, so you can already expect an emotional ride. However it’s the sort of film destined for 7 o’clock Sunday night showings; a bit cutesy yet inoffensive. Watch out for the maternity ward scene which could also be perfect advertising for a bank’s new saving scheme. There are also some troubling script decisions, turning corners that veer clearly away from what would make most sense, as well as a shameful deus ex machina.

Chris Evans is stripped of his trusty shield this time, but proves to still be a role model, only this time he’s fighting in the courts rather than an airport. Playing his part with conviction, his decisions may not always be the greatest (particularly a shoehorned mistake in the third act) but he carries a great screen presence throughout. Octavia Spencer is the neighbour and mother figure to Mary, and despite being severely under-utilised, she is the warm centre of any scene she’s in. Evans also has a likeable love interest in the form of Jenny Slate, cruising through every scene with a delightful personality, making for a fitting companion. Lindsay Duncan’s “grandmother or Evelyn” is a cold hearted, uncompromising, simply put, bitch. Glimmers of genuine compassion are few in far between, making her a formidable villain of the piece.

© – Fox Searchlight Pictures

However, you’ll come out of the cinema remembering one performance in particular – Mckenna Grace’s. Her chemistry with Evans is effortless, bouncing off each other charmingly. Effectively putting across that she’s truly gifted, you’ll watch in anticipation each and every time she attempts to solve equations. Not only that, her confident delivery transcends through the heavier scenes, taking your heart in her hand and squeezing it till you can’t take it. Not since Jacob Tremblay’s performance in Room have we seen such an impressive leap for a young actor.

To sum it up…

It’s not an award winner, but you’ll be hard pressed to not crack a big smile and have an even bigger weep at this touching effort. 

Rating: Crackin

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Author: Cameron Frew

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Cameron Frew

Freelance film writer. Words on Flickering Myth, Bloody Disgusting, Movie Corner UK and Jumpcut Online. My five favourite films are: 1. The Goonies 2. Forrest Gump 3. The Shawshank Redemption 4. Warrior 5. Whiplash

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