“Gifted” Is A Touching, Heartfelt Drama



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Posted May 5, 2017 by

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Back in 2009, Marc Webb directed one of the better relationship dramedies of the 21st century in “500 Days of Summer”. Since then, he has done a few music videos, some tv (including one of my favorite episodes of “The Office”), and a couple of unfortunate “Spider-Man” flicks. His new film, “Gifted”, marks his return to human dramas that tug at heartstrings. With a fine script, written by Tom Flynn, and an A-list cast, featuring Chris “Captain America” Evans and Octavia Spencer, Webb creates a film that shows why this is the kind of movie where he is at his best.

Frank (Evans) is boat repairman, living in Florida, and caring for his brilliant-minded niece Mary (Mckenna Grace in a star-making performance). Having lost her genius mother, to suicide, as a baby Mary has been raised and educated by Frank, until one day he decides she would benefit from a public school environment. Mary is not only a child prodigy, but also lonely and socially awkward, and Frank just wants to see her live the life of a normal child.

It doesn’t take long before Mary’s teacher (Jenny Slate) realizes that she has a remarkable mind, and soon people are coming out of the woodwork trying to get her into special schools, where the gift she has inherited can flourish. Frank, ever the protective uncle, shields her from those that would take her away and have her spending her days in think tanks, but when his wealthy mother (Lindsay Duncan) becomes convinced that Frank is ruining Mary’s potential a court case ensues and emotional family issues become the focus.

This review is not an easy one to write, because “Gifted” sounds like the type of movie you would see on ABC Family or The CW. I assure you, though, it is much better than that. Webb does something truly difficult and equally rewarding in keeping the emotions of his film on the surface, but never letting them go overboard and venture into the realm of melodrama. Much like “500 Days of Summer”, “Gifted” has a genuine heart that keeps it centered in its humanity.

Evans, Jenny Slate, and Octavia Spencer all give solid performances, but what the film really benefits from is the incredibly powerful performance from its young star Mckenna Grace. She gives Mary an amazing spirit, and a quiet knowledge of her gift and how it makes her different than other children her age. The young lady is only 10 years old, but I am sure she will be given many more substantial roles in the near future based on what she accomplishes here.

“Gifted” isn’t the stuff of box office gold, or probably even Oscar nominations, but it is a wonderful movie. Its story is meaningful, and its message is one of love in its purest form. If you are craving entertainment that is honest and warm-hearted, this is the film for you.




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