Magazine article Screen International

'Gifted': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Gifted': Review

Article excerpt

Chris Evans (Captain America) and director Marc Webb (Spiderman) unite for a low-key story about a child maths prodigy

Dir: Marc Webb. US. 2017. 101mins

Is it better to push a gifted child to the limits of her potential or let her be a normal, happy girl? This may be an agonising question for any parent, but Gifted's increasingly manipulative treatment of provocative subject matter cheapens the drama of its premise. A heartfelt performance from Chris Evans as the conscientious caretaker of his brilliant niece isn't ample compensation for a film lacking the same intelligence and inquisitiveness that its young protagonist possesses in abundance.

Gifted reveals itself to be a mechanical tear-jerker in which grownups fight over a little girl

Opening April 7 in the US and June 16 in the UK, this Fox Searchlight feature will rely Evans' star power, although he's had trouble corralling viewers outside of his role as Captain America. With a supporting cast that includes Octavia Spencer and Jenny Slate, Gifted should attract art-house patrons, but tepid reviews may hurt the movie's crossover prospects until it settles on VOD.

Set along the coast of Florida, the movie stars Evans as Frank, a soft-spoken boat mechanic who takes care of Mary (Mckenna Grace), the seven-year-old daughter of his sister Diane, a genius mathematician who committed suicide. Once Mary starts attending first grade, her teachers, including Bonnie (Slate), discover that she has an incredibly agile mind for numbers. But despite the teachers' pleading, Frank refuses to allow Mary to enrol in an elite private school, fearful that she will end up isolated and troubled like his sister. Frank's problems only multiply once his estranged mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) swoops in from Boston to demand custody of Mary, asserting that Frank isn't a fit guardian for a girl she believes could become one of the great mathematicians of modern times.

Fresh off directing Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man movies, Marc Webb returns to his low-budget roots for Gifted. But the (500) Days Of Summer filmmaker gives the proceedings a slick Hollywood gloss that runs counter to the complexity and moral shading intrinsic to Gifted's story.

Frank is convinced that Mary shouldn't be bullied into giving up her childhood to become a maths prodigy: He witnessed first-hand how miserable it made Diane, and he insists that his sister wanted him to be Mary's caretaker so that the girl wouldn't follow in her own tragic footsteps. …

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