Signed up the 28/03/2017
Gifted is a melodrama following characters played by Chris Evans and the young and evidently talented Mckenna Grace, directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Evans takes on the role of Frank, a single guy who was left tasked to raise his late sister's fussy, confident little girl, Mary. The seven-year-old happens to be a mathematical prodigy whose abilities are revealed to be inherited from her mother. Gifted is currently the #1 highest grossing indie film of 2017.
The film opens with an annoyed Mary saying "I look like a Disney character", letting us know that this young lady is much too different from her peers. Frank, with the intention of affording Mary a "normal life", has decided on sending her to "normal" school after homeschooling her for most of her life. Little Mary doesn't seem too pleased about interacting with simple kids her age. Dear uncle Frank's plan doesn't work out too well as Mary gets involved in a fight in which she leaves a young boy bleeding. She calls out another little boy for admirely staring at her with a stinging "get a hold of yourself!" Boy, she is sure not one to mess with and, besides the violence, I enjoyed seeing a young girl all liberated and comfortable in her skin enough to be herself, rather than fixing her hair and twirling to impress a boy. She also casually shouts commands at the school's Principal at some point.
No doubt Mary finds herself in a lot of trouble due to her rather sharp tongue. This leads to the school's Principal calling upon Frank's estranged mother, Evelyn, for help on parenting the child better. Evelyn comes into town and swiftly moves to take the young math genius under her wing. She wishes to place Mary in a school made for "special" children like herself so to polish up her skills.
This is where things begin to go downhill. The mood promptly changes here; going from warm and ticklish to acutely malevolent as Frank and Evelyn get vindictive, as they face-off over the custody of the kid-genius. The story reveals itself in the most human manner when we find that even Frank, who has Mary's best interests at heart, might also be selfish and flawed as he puts his ideas for her life before what might actually be best for her. Evelyn does the same, which ultimately compromises the child's happiness.
As the audience, I found myself asking a lot of pertinent questions about life and purpose itself. I particularly enjoyed the director's medium-shot of Frank and Mary's silhouettes over a blood orange sunset, as Mary proceeds to ask the question on every developing child's spirited and curious mind, "is there a God?"
The film almost persistently maintains its grip on simplicity while at the same time tackling the poignant and heart-wrenching aspects of life. I almost wish that the writers weren't too stubborn and went ahead and explored more gritting grounds that so come with every great indie film. Gifted borrows greatly from films such as Room, but runs short on dire emotional envolvement to be listed among them. Nonetheless, Gifted is a film you don't regret after watching, all thanks to the solid performances from the actors and the sophisticated directing.
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