By Christie MannTuesday 5 Sep 2017MoviesReading Time: 2 minutes
Starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace & Lindsay Duncan
RELEASE DATE: Now showing
SUMMARY: Frank (Chris Evans) is the full-time guardian of his seven-year-old niece, Mary (McKenna Grace). Mary is super smart and Frank believes his deceased sister would want her daughter to be raised as a “normal” child, not a prodigy. Frank rejects an offer for Mary to go to an elite school on a scholarship, in favour of sending her to a “normal” school. Frank’s academic mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) returns into their lives, challenging Frank’s custody of Mary – so Evelyn can ensure Mary pursues her intellectual potential.
RATED: M for occasional coarse language.
AUDIENCE: Fans of domestic dramas such as Little Man Tate, Little Miss Sunshine and Parenthood.
WHAT’S GOOD: Far from his most notable role as Captain America, Chris Evans is believably conflicted as a guy willing to defy popular wisdom – if he thinks it will be best for his niece. Co-stars McKenna Grace and Lindsay Duncan also inhabit their characters well, helping to flesh out the bold subject matter of parenting styles and education choices. Few films dare to raise contentious questions of what is best for a child and how should parents view education and personal development.
WHAT’S NOT: Gifted plays out like a polished telemovie – sincere but so-so. Beyond the striking subjects swirling around Mary’s education and future, Gifted injects few jaw-dropping moments along the way. Some of the issues around Mary’s upbringing also become repetitive, with Frank and Evelyn’s tussle becoming stuck in a stand-off once the key issues are set up.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: What blares from the custody stoush between Frank and his mum is what they determine will make Mary into the best version of herself. Interestingly, even as Frank upholds character and soul over brains and success, he bluntly tells Mary to not worry at all about God or spiritual matters. They’re not as important as being you, now. Evelyn makes no mention of anything being more crucial or valuable in life than academic achievement. Such perspectives on how to help a child live life to the full will prompt most viewers to consider their own approach to cultivating meaning and purpose.