Gifted (2017): A Super Sweet, Uplifting Film
Before the summer movie season kicks off with a blockbuster coming out seemingly every single week, there are a few smaller films that are looking to capitalize on this lull and reach new audiences that otherwise wouldn’t bother heading out to the theater. Gifted, starring Chris Evans, is a prime example of such a film. But is Gifted a worthy escape or should you just save your money? The following Gifted review will be spoiler free.
Gifted is directed by Marc Webb and stars Chris Evans alongside McKenna Grace and Lindsay Duncan. The film follows the relationship of young Mary (Grace) and her uncle Frank (Evans). After Frank finally forces Mary to go to school, her teacher (played by Jenny Slate) quickly learns that she’s much more intelligent than the average first grader. Once the principal learns of her gifts, she quickly contacts Mary’s out of touch grandmother (Duncan) who wishes for Mary to get involved in gifted programs and be a mathematician. However, Frank, attempting to stay true to the real mother’s (ans sister’s) wishes, wants Mary to have a normal life. As you can imagine from there, a struggle over Mary’s career path ensues.
Chris Evans has made it very apparent that he loves smaller, more character driven films as he has already dabbled in acting and directing in many indie projects. So when he’s done punching people in the face after spending weeks getting in great shape for his next turn as Captain America, you’ll most likely find him in a quiet, understated family drama. You have to admire him for proving that he truly loves acting and doesn’t just do it for the big paycheck.
Pairing himself with director Marc Webb would seem like a very nice fit. Webb, who you may know from The Amazing Spider-Man movies, has proven that he excels in smaller projects where relationships and bonds are at the center of the story. There was a ton of studio interference with The Amazing Spider-Man films (which you can read more about in my article that discusses studio interference), so I can’t really blame him for those final products. Where he succeeds is in movies such as 500 Days of Summer, which could be considered his best film to date.
What I Liked
Marc Webb once again displays his ability to shoot realistic, heartfelt relationships that keep your attention. There’s something to be said about a film that is thoroughly entertaining without the periodic explosion or fistfight (although Chris Evans still looks like he could take on some baddies). Gifted is just a bunch of people sitting and talking or standing in talking. Unlike with many other movies, this trait is in no way a detriment to the film’s quality. The dialogue and loving nature between Evans and Grace is so thoughtful and palpable. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the two were actually related.
Chris Evans showed another side to himself in this film that made thoroughly impressed. We’ve seen him have a softer side in some of his smaller romantic comedies, but he displayed some serious chops as a dad, further proving that he’s more than a soldier with a shield.
As you may know from the trailer, Evans plays a guy who is down on his luck. This may seem like a cliche, but Evans pulls it off in a way that isn’t melodramatic. It’s very, very real. Although it’ll be a little bittersweet, I’m looking forward to Chris Evans’ career post-Marvel so we can get more performances like this one.
What I Liked…Continued
However, the real star of the film is McKenna Grace. Playing the role of a child with incredible gifts is a challenging endeavor. But Grace is perfectly able to balance her extreme intellect with regular characteristics that any seven year old would have. There’s a certain inquisitive nature to her that make her interactions with other characters playful and above all, fun. To exude as this much charisma at such a young age is a very impressive feat. If she keeps this up, she’ll be a star for many years to come in the industry.
What I Didn’t Like
Although Marc Webb wrings a ton of pure emotion out of Gifted’s story, it doesn’t change the fact that the story is quite unoriginal. The film does not create any new ideas or concepts. If you know the general story of the film, then you can pretty easily predict how the film finishes. Gifted is certainly sweet, but such a plot requires a new spin on its story that is fresh and inventive.
What I Like…Continued…Continued
That being said, Gifted’s conventional story is still a very enjoyable, uplifting time at the theater. There’s a moment in the film where Evans and Grace are in front of a sunset just talking to each other about whatever comes to mind. The moment doesn’t exactly move the story forward in any particular way, but it deepens the bond between the two of them. It speaks to the solid direction and confident hand of Marc Webb to allow for the main characters to just enjoy each other’s company and relax for a few minutes. Allowing the film to breath for a scene is where this film becomes more than the average family drama. It feels like a slice of life, something many movies can’t replicate.
Gifted, although pretty generic, has enough heart to give you a big grin. It’ll make you laugh, and even cry if you’re not careful. Gifted gets an A-. This film deserves more credit than it’s currently getting. Make sure to check it out before the summer movie season goes into full swing!
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