Directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer) and written by Tom Flynn (Watch It), Gifted is about a mathematically gifted 7-year-old Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) who has lived with her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) since the death of her mother who was a promising mathematician herself. Her grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) wishes to move her away from an ordinary child's life and have her commit to becoming a mathematician while Frank disagrees as he wishes Mary to have a normal childhood by attending a public school. And there begins the custody battle between granny and uncle.
The first thing that its trailers reminded me was I Am Sam (2001), a multiple award-winning film that's also a child custody drama. No one who's seen I Am Sam, in the right mind, would say that Gifted is a superior film. Even the struggle in Gifted is lesser when compared. However, it is still a very decent drama with its own perspectives and themes questioning about a child's normal social life and upbringing versus instant pursuit of greatness (a.k.a. lifelong number nerd with zero social life).
The performances, too, is no where as brilliant as Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning's in I Am Sam (apologies for using that great film as a benchmark). Chris Evans (Marvel Cinematic Universe, Snowpiercer) is great as Marvel's Captain America but his performance here is not enough to prove that he has the acting range for drama roles that needs more depth. Grace's (Independence Day: Resurgence, The Angry Birds Movie) role must have been the most challenging one as she has to play an intelligent little girl that can't be similar to Fanning's performance. Somehow, she resorted to frowning a lot and being overly cocky at times which makes her unlikable at times. However, when they're together on screen, Evans and Grace do offer a charmingly adorable, close father and daughter-like chemistry that makes almost every scene of theirs count.
Gifted may have a predictable structure packed with genre cliches, is no where as emotionally impactful as the likes of I Am Sam and has a pretty poor ending, it is still quite an entertaining, fast-paced, easy-to-watch, light drama that scratches the itch I didn't know I had. On top of that, the film does have a purpose and message — and that matters a lot for films with a highly familiar plot.
Malaysian censorship: Doubt there was anything to cut. I don't even recall much profanities.
Verdict: Even if you've seen I Am Sam, you might still like this one.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Running Time: 102 minutes
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Tom Flynn
Cast: Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, Mckenna Grace
Malaysia Release Date: 27 April 2017
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: FilmNation Entertainment, Grade A Entertainment, DayDay Films
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