HOLLYWOOD—I heard so much buzz about the drama “Gifted” that I found it impossible not to jump at the opportunity to see the movie with a bit of spare time that I had. The drama which stars “Captain America” star Chris Evans, Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer and McKenna Grace delivers a bevy of emotions that will leave your heart warming. Evans stars as Frank Adler, a man who finds himself as the caregiver for his niece after his sister, Diane commits suicide.
This movie will instantly draw in the audience as we enter the lives of Frank and Mary (McKenna Grace). Grace is a precocious one; delivering a bevy of charisma, and array of emotions from being socially awkward to developing a voice that she never knew she had. The first 20 minutes of the movie really resonates, bringing back those nostalgic moments regarding the jitters about one’s first day of school, the awkwardness of meeting new students and wondering if you’ll fit in with the others.
The battle really ensues when Mary’s teacher Ms. Stevenson (Jenny Slate) discovers that Mary’s level of intelligence in the world of mathematics is unlike anything she has ever seen. Grace, not only delivers a riveting performance of a little girl caught in the conflict of those who want to see the best for her, she speaks her mind, even when so many others expect her not to. Mary has a bit of sass, as does most kids. They say and speak their mind even when we hope they don’t.
The battle really sits between Frank and his estranged mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who is a nasty fiend to say the least to her own flesh and blood. Evelyn’s desire to see her daughter excel in mathematics ultimately led to Mary’s mother committing suicide, placing Frank in a peculiar position to raise his niece. As time propels it becomes a legal fight between Frank and Evelyn to determine rather Mary should attend public school or an esteemed school where her mathematical abilities can be fully explored.
As much as one would like to believe this movie is about a child prodigy, it really puts the spotlight on the scope that children who may be smarter than their typical peers face on a daily basis. The notion of being labeled ‘different’ the idea that you don’t fully fit in with others, a lack of friends, and the list goes on and on, are things we’ve all encountered at some point. I mean Mary’s best friend is Roberta (Octavia Spencer), who is a much older adult, who also happens to the landlady of the property that Frank and Mary lives in.
Some might argue the cast of “Gifted” is small in comparison to typical movies, and that is fine and dandy because it really allows the audience to get fleshed out characters that punch the spectator in the gut time and time again. We see Frank’s frustration of having his life turned upside down by having to raise a kid, Roberta constantly worrying about the wellbeing of this little kid who she considers one of her own, Bonnie’s constant worry that Mary’s intelligence is being dumbed down by her inability to be challenged, or Evelyn’s unrelenting quest to produce a mathematical prodigy at any cost, EVEN if it results in her grandchild being placed in foster care.
The movie resonates personally with me because while I would not consider myself a mathematical genius, but I am indeed capable of doing numbers in my head on the fly and it comes naturally to me. I mean how many people do you know who can take an advance college statistics course, and nail a perfect score in the class without having a book? Yeah, it ain’t easy people.
Spencer delivers a fierce performance as the sassy, sometimes overprotective and blunt landlord and caregiver to Mary at times. However, it is Evans who carries this film with pure emotion. It might be some of the finest acting I’ve seen from the actor in years, showcasing he can do much more than just portray a superhero or heartthrob on the big screen. “Gifted” makes it crystal clear to the audience; every kid at their core no matter how talented or special they are, they want to be treated just like all the others kids. Look past my special abilities and acknowledge at the end of the day, I’m just a KID, so treat me like one!