Release Date: April 7, 2017
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Tom Flynn
Cast: Jenny Slate, Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Julie Ann Emery, Keir O’Donnell, Lindsay Duncan, Glenn Plummer, Jona Xiao, John M. Jackson, John Finn, Joe Chrest, Candance B. Harris, Maia Moss-Fife, Samantha Bell, Kelly Collins Lintz, Maiya Boyd, Jon Sklaroff, Tommy Brown, Cameron Mills, Mia Sinclair Jenness, Brody Rose, Raegan-Alexix Santucci, Will Buie Jr., Desmond Phillips
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 101 minutes
Production Company: Dayday Film, FilmNation Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Grade A Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Being completely honest, Marc Webb (500 Hundred Days of Summer) is an exceptional director, but his last film, The Amazing Spiderman 2, was one of the worst experiences I ever had in a movie theater. There aren’t enough words to describe the amount of disgust I have for that piece of crap. Trying to forgive him of that sin, his previous work shows how talented he is, and so does his new film Gifted. The casting of the popular and well-known actor from the role of Captain America, Chris Evans, shows that he can do more than throw a shield in a giant Blockbuster epic. Evans is able to steer the ship in a dramatic story that’s founded on love, with great performances all around. It may possibly be a contender for one of the more appreciated films of the year.
Tragedy had struck, and a decision needed to be made for whom would take ownership of infant Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace). Frank Adler (Chris Evans), her uncle, stepped up to the plate and took on the lifelong responsibility. There isn’t a better way to start a film to get the audience to respect your lead being a manly man that gets things done. Webb and the writing team knew what they were doing to sink you into the characters and play around with your emotions. It helps that the acting was performed well from the entire cast, in both fun moments and severe situations. Mary, the six-year-old prodigy, was so cute and well-mannered that shaking her hand would’ve felt like an honor. Frank played his part well, trying to stay low-key with a soft nature to all his movements.
What’s great is the film doesn’t just focus on Mary, but also Frank, his mother, and surrounding peers that all have their valuable places on the chess board. The film constantly flips back and forth between characters that clash, and when things erupt both sides have a strong stance to back up their claims. It’s a somewhat thrilling experience watching great dialogue being spewed out and having no idea what the outcome will be. Then when you think you figured it out, another arc presents itself revealing more from the past and thickening the plot. A scene from a court room hearing comes to mind, with it being like unstoppable forces meeting an unmovable object and making the whole experience that more exciting.
The film also pulls on your heart strings, as it asks you the question, “What would you do?” There are no selfish people in the cast, and the decision is hard to make. They all want what’s best for the child, but have diverse ways to go about it. Not being a parent myself, I can only imagine what Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) was going through. As a grandmother, she wants to do the right thing, and with her wisdom will push on until that’s achieved. It only makes me respect her more, as nearly everyone around her is separated from her well placed perspective. She’s the one that brings on the drama, and she doesn’t let up until the credits. She’s tired and ready to rest, but won’t stop until she can’t continue on.
While there’s fighting and bickering all around, Gifted is filled with love and compassion in a difficult series of events. The performances deserve high praise and might make some emote. It’s another example of how life isn’t fair, but for those that work hard they can still achieve great things. Even when all hope is against them, it represents showing strength in hard times. It’s another film that is for all ages, with life lessons most can adhere to.