May 7, 2017
Actor Chris Evans is so identified as Captain America now, it is hard to imagine him as a regular guy at all. Imagine a film where he plays someone whom society would call a slacker or a loser. Difficult, huh? Well such is the character he plays in "Gifted". It bears to see how he would convince us that he can actually still be as human as the rest of us.
Mary Adler is 7-years old and she is a math prodigy. She is currently living in a small Florida town with his uncle Frank who worked as a simple freelance boat mechanic. Frank wanted to keep his promise to Mary's departed mother Diane, a math prodigy herself, to raise Mary as an ordinary child despite her genius. However, Mary's rich grandmother (Frank and Diane's mother) Evelyn is suing to gain custody of Mary for her to guide the child in achieving her full potential.
Chris Evans plays Frank Adler. Because of his look and stature remain unaffected despite their efforts to deglamorize him, it was not too easy to accept at first that Evans was this ordinary Joe. In fact, even the teachers at Mary's school also hung around the bar he goes to for a chance to get picked up by him. However, once you find out about pedigree and his past, you'd understand his present laidback lifestyle. To his credit though, he is very convincing as the devoted uncle and guardian. You know he is a good guy.
10-year old Mckenna Grace has the unenviable challenge of portraying child genius Mary Adler, and she nails the difficult role. She has to convince us she is an awesome math prodigy, while keeping us grounded to the fact that she is still a child after all. She was able to make us really care about where she went in the end. She and Chris Evans had effective chemistry in their dramatic scenes together.
Lindsay Duncan plays the domineering Evelyn Adler, only driven by class status and ambition. If her heart is in the right place, the script did not make it evident. She was painted to be a selfish antagonist, and Duncan projects her elite aristocratic air to full effect. Jenny Slate plays Bonnie Stevenson, Mary's teacher. I thought her later role as Frank's girlfriend was awkward and out of place in this film. Octavia Spencer plays another one of her trademark altruistic characters in Roberta Taylor, Frank's landlady and family friend.
The story as written by Tom Flynn may have only been a simple family drama. However, because of the effective story telling by director Marc Webb (best known for directing "(500) Days of Summer" and the two recent "The Amazing Spider-Man" reboot films), the audience is able to achieve an emotional connection with the characters, thus elevating this film from others similar to it. 7/10.