I’m an emotional guy. If I see a puppy I melt. Show me a sad movie or video and I’ll cry. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that.
That being the case, I probably should have foreseen the emotional mess I’d be when I went to see Gifted. Its commonplace for me to cry during emotional movies. In fact, I load up on extra napkins at the concession stand if I know there’s a good chance that I may. Despite knowing that I may be in for another tearful viewing as I walked into the theater, there was no way I could have prepared myself for how hard this movie would hit me directly in the feels.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this film or seen its trailer, Gifted is a movie about a little girl, Mary (Mckenna Grace), who displays genius level intellect when it comes to mathematics. She is looked after by her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) who is trying to raise her how he believes his sister, Mary’s mother, would have wanted. It is learned early on that Mary’s mother was also a genius in mathematics who took her own life while trying to solve one of the seven Millennium Problems. Frank believes his sister would have wanted Mary to have a “normal” upbringing rather than have her life revolve around numbers and equations. When Mary shows her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) how extensive her innate quantitative skills are, it is suggested that Mary be enrolled in a gifted school where she will fit in better. Frank turns down the offer from the gifted school, and this is where the film really begins.
Frank and Mary brought me to tears most times they interacted. Frank is so delicate around Mary due to the constant fear of raising her wrong that when she asks Frank his opinion on life after death, he will not give her a straight answer as to his beliefs for fear that his opinion will only influence her. That to me was one of the most beautiful moments of the film. While he understands that he is raising her and that she is his responsibility, he does not want to control her. Frank wants Mary to find herself in the world, to develop her own beliefs because he realizes how much influence he holds over her, and how detrimental that can be if handled improperly.
This movie may be predictable, and a lot of the time that ruins a movie for me. Gifted is the exception to that rule though and it’s because of the cast. From the three actors mentioned above as well as Lindsay Duncan as Evelyn and Octavia Spencer as Roberta, they infuse life into this movie. They all give their characters so much depth, personality, and substance that it doesn’t feel like a movie. That’s why I was so emotional as well. When these characters hurt, I hurt with them. When they laughed, I did too. Likewise, there were scenes when I would have screamed at some of these characters for their actions if I could. I felt very connected to them, and still do even while writing this. It’s surreal how much influence a movie can have on you, but Gifted certainly had a profound effect on me.
Movies like this are very easily overlooked. A small budget film with little in the way of promotion and marketing often falls under the radar. It’s truly a shame because I feel that this movie deserves to be seen by the masses. I really loved and connected with this film, and think anyone who sees it will empathize as well. Lastly, Mckenna Grace is an amazing talent and I hope to see her cast in many more projects in the future!
Don’t forget, go to the movies!
P.S. If you’d like a little more in-depth review of the film, listen to Episode 53 here!
Mary Adler: “You wanted me before I was smart.”