Gifted is an attempt at reviving the emotional appeal that classics like Good Will Hunting or Kramer Vs Kramer had. While effectively containing the essential elements to get there, the movie fails at leaving a mark the way it really could have.
I’m gonna start off by remarking that Mckenna Grace is a revelation as the 7 year old prodigy. Fortunately for her she was supplemented with a well rooted cast of actors that her performance held its ground throughout. Chris Evans is comforting as the composed guardian, Frank Adler and it’s very refreshing to watch him play something out of the Captain America spandex. Interestingly, it should be noticed that this was the same guy that played the impenitent Human Torch.
So if the acting was of ace standards, why did this movie fail from being the emotional appeal that it could have really been? This is where I’d probably point fingers at Tom Flynn, the screenwriter. Flynn wrote a fantastic first two acts, but the the final act was bland albeit cliched. Director Marc Webb isn’t new to this territory of movie making owing to the phenomenal hit that 500 Days of Summer was. To be fair, I’d give Webb credit for some very engaging cinematography. A standout scene in the entire movie is a silhouette of Chris Evans’ character and his prodigal niece conversing with a breathtaking backdrop of the sunset. The movie had it’s moments, and that’s probably because the premise was very convenient, but somewhere down the line, the writing became very lazy.
I never understood why Frank had such a composed relationship with his mother, Evelyn. The grandmother played by Lyndsay Duncan is painted out as the clear antagonist. Frank obviously had a dysfunctional upbringing and is fully aware of how damaging his mother was when it came to him and his sister. But that conflict between mother and son was just not there and I don’t get why. Right through the movie Evelyn goes on to err at every turn, but Frank is not only forgiving but way too understanding of her actions. This dynamic that Frank had with his mother could’ve been thought out more effectively, and the conflict could’ve brought in a stronger layer of emotional vulnerability to the movie.
Supporting actors Jenna Slate and Octavia Spencer are alright too. But the cliche of having Slate’s character have an affair with Frank is yet another evidence for lazy writing.
All in all, Gifted is almost a very good movie but misses out by a clear margin.