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Categories: Movie Reviews

Gifted is a film full of heart and chemistry, writes Edward Wragg, but is it enough to shake the feeling of Hollywood formula?

The last time we saw Chris Evans he’d hung up his shield and was breaking his friends out of a maximum security prison. You could therefore be forgiven for thinking the, “quiet, damaged hot guy,” in Gifted is another superpower led alpha male. Evans certainly has form.

With Captain America, Fantastic Four and Push he’s made a reputation for saving the world and is certainly not unfamiliar with people with “gifts.”

For once, though, Evans plays sidekick as boat mechanic Frank looking after his niece Mary (McKenna Grace) who takes the “Gifted” platitude as a seven year old maths genius.

Frank has been bringing up his niece since his sister died and all seems to be going as calculated until Grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) arrives claiming Frank’s parental methods are denying Mary her potential. Cue legal proceedings and cue anguish.

It’s a film full of heart and the chemistry between Evans and Grace is palpable. She handles the complex sums with ease and he treats her with care whilst always talking to her as if she were his equal. Both teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) and neighbour/surrogate mother Roberta (Octavia Spencer) offer strong turns, although Spencer feels particularly under-utilised.

It is however the relationship between Evans and Grace which holds the film together. There’s a sense of understanding between the two which culminates in the film’s most emotional punch as the two are dragged apart.

The film, however, is not without its flaws. With the introduction of Evelyn we get a character so one dimensionally ruthless it’s hard to know whether to cry or shout “she’s behind you.” We’ve entered severe melodrama and, like me during A-Level trigonometry, director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man) is unable to find the solution. The turns are predictable and the film offers little in ways of surprises.

Ultimately when the dust settles what we have is a heartfelt story about family, a string of strong performances and a few key beats guaranteed to water some eyes in the theatre. It may be a little by the numbers but in the end what it adds up to is a worthwhile hour and forty minutes.

Gifted is out now in cinemas.

Edward Wragg

E. M. Wragg is a 25 year old Actor majoring in sarcasm and writing in third person.

Posted on Jun 21, 2017

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