Dueling values, familiar battles, and a seven-year-old math prodigy, who needs what all children need~ to know that they are loved~ are the spokes of this rather run-of-the-mill custody courtroom drama. Abandonment issues aside,”Gifted” deals with using another’s talent for self-aggrandizement. The acting sets this film apart. Marc Webb’s directing is laudable.
The villain grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) is a haughtily clueless intellectual. The script has made her British. Your guess may be the same as mine! Her money gives her power, and now she wants a legacy in academia that her gifted daughter kept from her.
Her grand-daughter Mary, played remarkably by McKenna Grace is the second math prodigy in this very bright, but depression ridden family. Both Mary’s mother and her grandfather have taken their own lives. Blaming the cold, intellectually ambitious matriarch is a tad too simple. Even though,I can see viewers using the “being Evelyn” every time someone acts superior by using a snarky, putdown. Evelyn’s best rhetoricals are thrown at her son:” This god-forsaken mosquito hutch was a conscious choice?”
Uncle Frank (Chris Evans) has been given sole custody of the certainly precocious and often bratty Mary. He is a drop-out philosophy professor who repairs broken boat engines like he has energized his orphaned niece. As a now laid-back Floridian, he attempts to normalize the abnormal. A pet cat named Fred, a loving neighbor and sometimes sitter, outdoorsy activities, a piano, disco all help keep Mary’s head out of the math theorems and quadratic equations. Mary knows she is different. Uncle Frank is trying to preserve her childhood while still home-schooling the young savant in Trachtenberg methodology.
School placement becomes an issue. Jenny Slate plays her classroom teacher. A romance develops with Frank. She becomes a pivotal figure when she sees a one-eyed cat poster and acts accordingly.
As Evelyn focuses on the “The Seven Great Millenium Problems In Mathematics” and salivates over the Nobel Prize, her family falls apart. Somehow it is she who has not thought things through.
My favorite scene takes place in a maternity ward. Frank knows how to teach by showing, not just telling. When Mary stops jumping up and down and asks, ” Can we stay for another?”, there is not a dry eye in the theater.
This is not a great movie, but it is a crowd pleaser. The sound track is horridly overdone, but the lessons broached are worthy of a family hug.