12A – 101mins – 2017
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUPER POWER
After his Amazing Spider-Man reboot came unspun after two fun-but-bloated comic-book adventures, director Marc Webb has returned to the more comfortable and earthy terrain of human drama which won him universal acclaim with 2009’s glorious (500) Days of Summer.
While Chris Captain America: Civil War Evans may be the hunky poster-boy, it is his diminutive co-lead who steals the show in Gifted. Grace McKenna manages to endow 7-year old maths prodigy Mary Adler with effortless charm and charisma, despite a penchant for precociousness and an outstanding ability to ace complex equations which a degree-level student would struggle with.
Raised by her coasting-yet-content uncle, Frank (Evans), in a bug-infested backwater neighbourhood in Tampa, Florida, feisty overachiever Mary becomes the subject of a custody battle when her stern and estranged British grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) believes the intellectual adolescent should follow in her deceased mother’s footsteps with a scholarship at a private school for the gifted.
Knowing the hell his suicidal sister went through being “different,” Frank is determined to give Mary the semblance of a normal upbringing, to protect her from the tragic fate which befell her troubled and tragic mathematician mother. But is he harming Mary’s exceptional talents by failing to challenge her special mind?
Tender, touching, funny, thoughtful and frustrating, Gifted wonderfully and effortlessly encompasses a kaleidoscope of emotions. The entire cast – which includes Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer and Chris Evan’s former partner Bonnie Slate – are on tremendous form, bringing sincerity and amiability to this powerful drama, resulting in many tear-inducing and air-punching stand-out moments.
McKenna shines with a remarkable confidence and sassy maturity well beyond her years. Partnering with Evans they make an adorable (surrogate) father-daughter duo to challenge Wolverine and X-23 in Logan. You’ll question people’s decisions, cheer for their victories, weep at their despair and fall in love with a one-eyed cat named Fred. Welcome back to your forte, Mr. Webb – Gifted is a heart-warming triumph.
CR@B’s Claw Score: