Cast: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Lindsay Duncan
I do not know what it is about this movie, maybe it’s the simple, close-knit setting or maybe it’s the chemistry between all the actors and actresses. There’s something really special about this little indie film. Now personally indie films are either a hit or miss with me, you really need to capture my attention from the beginning.
This movie was teased for almost two years. Once I knew Chris Evans was attached to it, I became really excited. I knew Chris Evans from his most famous role being Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America. The guy definitely has the talent, a few years before this movie he was in another indie film called Puncture. The film certainly made him flex his acting muscles and showed audiences that he has what it takes in this emotional rollercoaster of a film.
In Gifted, Evans plays Frank Adler, a thirty-something man who lives in Tampa, Florida who fixes boats and is the guardian of his niece Mary. Mary was left in Frank’s care after Diane, Frank’s sister unexpected death. The catch is that Mary is an exceptional little girl, she has adapted her mother’s gift of being brilliant in mathematics. Frank has known this since she was a baby. So he tries to shield her from the world by homeschooling her. He knows how his mother controlled his sister’s life and never let her truly have a life of her own outside mathematics. Frank just wants Mary to be a kid and live her life as normal as possible.
Mckenna Grace who portrays Mary was somewhat of a mystery to me. I was not familiar with her work so I just went into the film with the assumption of her being good. Being only eleven years old at the time, she did a great job. Even being a genius she made the audience very emphatic towards her character. When she was vulnerable and was in touch with her childlike antics you believe it. I am not going to spoil it but there is a scene that really shows her acting ability, she completely sells the scene and your heart aches because of it.
Her and Evans chemistry is what really makes this movie work. If they had no chemistry did not work, this movie would be an absolute failure. They even could be considered father and daughter at first glance. Mckenna Grace surely looks like she can even be Chris Evans daughter for real. I think that sells the dynamic even more. Mary and Frank’s relationship is what drives the story forward. They are the heart and soul of this film. The scenes of them bickering, standing up for each other and absolutely drive each other crazy shows not tells how close the two characters are.
Lindsay Duncan, who plays Frank’s mother and Mary’s grandmother is painted as the villain of this story. I really do not think that she’s a bad person, she really thinks that Mary living with her is the best thing. I feel that Evelyn and Frank are trying to do the best thing for Mary.
From a story standpoint I find that a great way to keep your audience invested, and intrigued because it’s just not black or white in this situation. Just shades of gray just like how sometimes it is in the real world. They both have their reasons which can be considered selfish to some viewers but I feel that this shows how human these characters are.
Jenny Slate who played Mary’s teacher, Bonnie was a great addition to the cast as well. She was very sweet and bubbly, but was not a push over. She did not hold her tongue and tried to help the best she could. Bonnie never stopped believing in Mary. She helped harvest her gift and was a great support system. Her dynamic with Chris Evans was electric and indeed complicated as she helped Frank and Mary on their journey.
Octavia Spencer definitely was the mama bear in this movie. Her and Mckenna Grace’s relationship was so well-done because even though Mary’s best friend was an adult, it still showed that they were friends. They had some of the cutest scenes that will certainly make audience laugh. Evans and Spencer had down a film a few years back so I already knew that they balanced each other well. Roberta always told Frank what she thought whether he liked it or not. I feel that he really needed that type of person in his life. Frank is at times really stubborn and needed her to keep him on track.
I really like the aesthetic of this film as there is a yellowish filter throughout the movie. I think that it goes with the idea that nothing gold can stay. Frank loves Mary regardless of what she eventually chooses what’s wants to do down the road. The essence provides a warm atmosphere around the film as take a look into Frank and Mary’s life from an intimate perspective.
Ever since I saw this movie in 2017, I constantly go back to it. There’s something about this movie that just has that re watchable factor. General audiences who feel that they are growing fatigue of the superhero and spy genre can easily sit back and invest themselves in this heartwarming story.