Film Review: One gifted girl and many gifted actors shine in ‘Gifted’

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Alex Abraham, Staff Writer

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How would you feel to be the only second-grader in a classroom completing advanced calculus problems while the rest of the students struggle to learn addition?

McKenna Grace portrays Mary Adler, who is an extremely intelligent girl whose knowledge is far beyond others in her age group. After her mother commits suicide, Mary is left to live with her uncle Frank Adler (Chris Evans) and continue a supposedly ordinary childhood. While Frank wants to keep his promise and ensure normalcy in her life, Mary’s grandmother, Evelyn Adler (Lindsay Duncan), wants the seven-year-old to pursue her natural gifts and devote herself to mathematics.

Being extremely stubborn caretakers, both Evelyn and Frank fight to take custody over Mary and give her the life they believe is best. The film takes a few twists and turns as the past of Mary’s mother, Diane, is revealed and becomes a pivotal moment in the lives of the characters.

Although Diane Adler is not a living character in the film, the conflicts that arise in the film revolve around her past and add many more complications into the lives of Frank, Evelyn, and Mary. The incredibly well-crafted plot fully engages the viewer in the struggles of loss and frustration.

The film also explains the pressures Diane faced as a mathematical genius with an overbearing mother who forced her daughter to commit her life solely to solving a groundbreaking math equation. After abandoning her own dream as a mathematician, Evelyn sacrifices her daughter’s childhood and happiness for success as a woman of brilliance.

When she learns about Diane’s unplanned pregnancy, Evelyn deserts her own daughter and disengages from her children entirely until, of course, she learns about Mary’s extraordinary talents in mathematics. Having similar goals in mind as she had with Diane, Evelyn flies to Florida in hopes of turning her granddaughter into a prodigy while threatening Frank and Mary’s close relationship.

Chris Evans played Frank Adler perfectly; he is a caring and compassionate man whose priorities revolve entirely around his niece and her well-being. Despite his previous roles in movies as “Captain America,” Evans took on the film from a entirely new perspective and became Mary’s kind and warmhearted uncle.

Roberta (Octavia Spencer), Frank and Mary’s neighbor, also plays a significant role in the film. Having no mother figure in her life, Mary seeks out Roberta for advice, support, and attention while dealing with the difficulties she faces in her own home. Octavia Spencer portrays a wonderful and maternal role model in Mary’s life who fights with Frank to keep the gifted girl in Florida with her uncle.

Mary Adler’s bold and spirited personality brings light and laughter to the film as she portrays a sassy yet sophisticated character. Viewers will be sure to fall in love with her witty personality and sympathize with the difficulties she faces as such a young girl. McKenna Grace’s take on her character as Mary Adler is incomparable and will be sure to steal the hearts of anyone who watches “Gifted.”

While the characters frustrate themselves regarding what to do about Mary, the viewers also struggle with this conflict. The dilemma presented is extremely strenuous, and it is hard to decide whether the brilliant girl should continue a normal childhood or pursue a life most adults can’t even imagine.

The original plot is refreshing and not your typical Hollywood movie. There is no prince and princess, no villain, no huge dangers; the movie feels very real and it makes for an excellent film. I encourage audiences of all ages to watch the film and take part in the humorous yet heartfelt story of the Adler family.

Grade: A-
“Gifted”
Runtime: 1hr 41min
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Marc Webb
Cast: Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate

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Film Review: One gifted girl and many gifted actors shine in ‘Gifted’