RAMA is back
GIFTED is an emotional endearing film, which is interesting because I do see it like the perfect cross between “Kramer Vs. Kramer” and “Terms of Endearment.” It’s a film that is as adorable as it is heartfelt with great performances by all the actors involved including the ultimate scene-stealer, Fred the one-eyed cat.
Chris Evans plays a single man, Frank, raising his super smart little niece, a child prodigy, Mary, (McKenna Grace) in Florida. They live a normal regular life but Mary clearly considers her current education level as something that’s beneath her skills. The seven year-old’s incredible mathematical ability reaches the attention of Frank’s mother, Evelyn (Lyndsay Duncan) who plans to take her granddaughter away from Frank so that she could send her to boarding school for intelligent students. This starts a custody battle that will ultimately determine which side really knows what’s best for Mary. Co-starring Octavia Spencer as Frank’s landlady and best friend, Roberta, and Jenny Slate as Mary’s teacher, Bonnie, who develops a relationship with Frank.
It’s fun to watch Chris Evans, Marvel’s action star, flexes his dramatic muscles for this role. As Frank, Chris exudes wisdom, tenderness and understanding, a very mature performance. And McKenna Grace is this high-spirited young girl with a lot of strength and fierceness to her. And veteran actress Lyndsay Duncan’s stubbornness is equal to the likes of Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith, there’s a scene in this film where Duncan's character makes her case in court as to why she deserves to have custody of Mary and it’s one of the longest most commanding, most powerfully-delivered lines, any minute I thought she was going to scream out, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’
But what’s even more interesting is that even though at times the characters can appear adversarial, outside the court, they’re quite cordial. I like that because as complicated as family can be, you can remain civil about it. The confrontations make sense which is a brilliant move on the film’s part because the audiences will find themselves conflicted. On one hand you want Mary to be with kids that would challenge her intelligence, you want her potentials to be sharpened. On the other hand you also want her to be a regular happy kid. So there’s not really a bad guy in this scenario.
After tackling “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” director Marc Webb comes back to a world that reminds us that he once made “500 Days of Summer.” The drama in “Gifted” is warm and inviting, not overbearing. That’s the tone he sets from start to finish. It goes to show how precious it is to be genuinely caring for someone other than ourselves.
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