Stepping away from the lycra and spandex of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise Marc Webb directs Gifted, a family drama which stars the normally lycra and spandex clad Chris Evans as Frank the uncle/guardian of a mathematical prodigy Mary played by McKenna Grace.
Frank's biggest desire is for Mary to have a normal life but his plans for are foiled when the seven-year-old's mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank's formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary. What unfolds is a court room battle for custody and Frank's minor romance with Mary's teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate).
There's much to enjoy within Gifted, not least the spirited performance from McKenna Grace who is wonderfully obnoxious and yet charmingly endearing throughout. She is already old beyond her tender years and there is no doubt she is a shining star for the future. Equally, Chris Evans does a great job as Frank continually attempting to reign in this wonderful minded he is charged with guardianship of, but there is something about genius that cannot be suppressed even at such a young age.
Frank is flawed but well intentioned and his actions are all for Mary's benefit. His declaration of 'you're not going anywhere' to Mary does however sets alarm bells ringing and falls into generic cinematic court room battle error. Much like dark unexplored basements in horror films, no character in a family drama like this should ever declare such things or make promises they can't keep.
The film wishes to ask questions of the best way to nurture gifts. While this is well intentioned it sadly never feels fully formed. While the court room battle simmers, (it never truly rages) certain sequences back in the real world feel out of step with the rest of the film. One particular scene on a beach in front of a beautiful Floridian sunset holds within it a wonderful momentary discussion about faith, God and belief but bears no real relevance to the rest of the film.
Predictable in places, with a plinky piano score demanding your emotional core to engage Gifted entertains but never fully engaged me. While not fully enamoured, I would still recommend Gifted as a perfect date night / rainy Sunday afternoon film. There is entertainment and enjoyment to be had. The best reason to see Gifted is total in the performance of McKenna Grace who, I predict, will entertain audiences for many years to come. She is indeed gifted.
Gifted is on general release from 16th June.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access.