Director Marc Webb became a bit of a Cinderella story once his indie feature 500 Days of Summer went mainstream thanks to a huge response from audiences and rave reviews from critics. Webb used a subtle touch while treading on deep themes of timeless things which everyone has to deal with including relationships, love, heartbreak, loss and learning to move on.
After diving straight into The Amazing Spiderman and its subsequent sequel, Webb became burnt out from the massive effort of handling a massive blockbuster franchise. Webb has now successfully returned to exploring human nature and how we form connections to each other in his latest cinematic endeavor Gifted.
Gifted is the story of a bright little girl named Mary (McKenna Grace) that’s living in rural Florida with her damaged uncle Fred (Chris Evans) and her loving neighbour Roberta. As Mary enters the first grade, it is revealed to her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) that Mary is a child math prodigy that is capable of tackling advanced problems which even leading scholars are struggling to comprehend.
Once Mary’s brilliance is revealed, her grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), Fred’s mother, tries to take legal custody of her and take her away from him. An ensuing legal battle takes place while Mary’s fate hangs in the balance as Fred tries to fight for her future in accordance with what his sister wanted for her daughter as Mary’s Mom.
This movie is a heartfelt emotional journey about the meaning of family, the power of compassion, endearing empathy, and the strength it takes to really love someone. The heart of this tale is about a little girl and her surrogate father that both refuse to be torn apart because the only thing they truly have in the world is each other.
McKenna Grace gives a blazing performance in her debut role as a leading lady, as the young Mary who struggles to balance her brilliance with learning how to be a kid. Chris Evans serves up an incredibly sensitive performance as Fred and will remind anyone that’s ever had their heart broken, it’s never too late to put it back together.
If you’re looking for a film with some true humanity in it, this is it. It will show you that there are still some people in Hollywood that have a heart. Although the film can easily run alongside dramas like Searching for Bobby Fisher, Good Will Hunting and even Kramer vs. Kramer, it definitely stands strongly on its own merits. For anyone with children, this one might be a tearjerker, but anyone with a heart will feel something here.
Directed by: Marc Webb Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures Release Date: April 7, 2017 (United States) Run Time: 101 minutes