A multi-award winner, “Gifted” (2017) might not initially seem very blockbuster. It isn’t shocking, dynamic, or life-changing. It is a gentle, emotional, sometimes funny, sometimes romantic, simultaneously anxious and hopeful, ultimately rewarding, human experience.
“Gifted” is a custody battle story, a story about a math genius and a family’s desires. The genius is a seven-year-old, precocious, adorable, girl, whose performance in this film is magnificent. She will, without doubt, capture your heart. You, too, will want to keep her.
Also extremely well-performed is the role of Uncle Frank (Chris Evans), who is anything but a perfect guy. He’s full of self-doubt and won’t win any Best Parent awards. But his sensitive and humble portrayal of an imperfect parent, carrying a lot of historical emotional baggage, will have you thinking seriously about what “normal” really means, what “smart” really means, and how much each matters.
Then there’s Grandmother. Lindsay Duncan, as Frank’s mother, does an excellent job of emotionally scaring everyone in the audience. Brilliant herself, and sadly unfulfilled, she is granite personified. Her historical role in “cultivating genius” and her unrestrained goal to do the same with her granddaughter Mary will have viewers whispering to themselves…“no, no, no”.
All Frank wants is for Mary to have a normal childhood with friends, social graces, sports, someday go to the prom, etc. If it means not fully exploiting her genius, he’s OK with that. But he’s not sure. He knows Mary is not “normal”; she is very bored at school and she does not want to attend.
And he knows some gifts are so extraordinary they’re practically like calls to action. Is it right or wrong to (not) develop them, or for a person in possession of such gifts to not commit to them? Grandmother will fix that.
“Gifted” sifts through these people and issues, with all their wants and needs. Beautifully acted and filmed, it builds a heart-warming, viewer-involved story. And it offers a line that may say it all: “He’s a good person. He wanted me before I was smart.”
“Gifted” is screening 7:30pm., Monday March 18 at Gibsons Heritage Playhouse; and 2pm, Sunday March 24 at Sechelt’s Raven’s Cry Theatre. Members $5, others $9.
Submitted by Gretchen Bozak, SC Film Society