Rob Reviews "Gifted"
Marc Webb seems to be a guy that can work just about anywhere he wants to and be successful. Look at the guy’s directing resume: both “Amazing Spider-Man Films” (which were MUCH better than the Raimi stuff), “500 Days of Summer” (really popular with the kids with the clothes and the hair that need to stay off my lawn), TV including “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Limitless,” and more music videos than you can shake a stick at. Some may see “Gifted” as another left turn for him, but look at it this way, a “Spider-Man” director works with Captain America in a film that could be seen as a chick-flick version of “Logan”. We all good?
Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a guy living in Florida, repairing boats for a living and home schooling his niece, Mary (Mckenna Grace). Mary is a math prodigy whose first foray into public school comes in the second grade with Bonnie (Jenny Slate), but her social awkwardness, boredom with material that is below her, and razor sharp wit don’t quite fit in with kids her age. When her gifts are discovered, pressure is put on Frank to put Mary in a special school that will advance her through life. Frank wants Mary to have a normal childhood, forcing the hand of her principal to reach out and involve Mary’s grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan). In order to keep Mary, Frank will need to get everything together with the help of his neighbor, Roberta (Octavia Spencer).
I cannot say enough good things about this film. From the beautiful shooting style of cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh to Webb’s eye for great storytelling and a brilliant script from virtual newcomer Tom Flynn, “Gift3ed” grabbed me from the get-go and held me the entire time. I even found myself getting a bit misty from time to time as the story between Frank and Mary unfolded, which is taken to the next level by the actors portraying them. Grace’s performance alone will make audiences everywhere stand up and notice, and it also might push them to another project she has on television, “Designated Survivor” if Keifer Sutherland isn’t enough. She absolutely captures the essence of Mary and lets the character flow through her in a way that is organic and convincing. As much as this is Frank’s story it is also Mary’s story, and both actors here get it. Evans brings a wonderful human element to Frank that had me rooting for him to the point that any adversity he faced made me angry. Frank is written simply as a guy who just wanted to live his life before this little girl changed his entire plan but loves her so much that he learns to adjust while having that small part of him that wonders what could have been. The supporting cast also does a great job here, with Octavia Spencer doing what she does which is being consistently wonderful in any film she does and Duncan playing the perfect foil to not only Frank but to even herself as she struggles with her own life choices.
There is nothing about “Gifted” that I absolutely did not enjoy. This is a film that may or may not get the recognition that it deserves, but it will rely on word-of-mouth to reach the level of success that it should.