Gifted – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Gifted – 3/5 –  From the surreal to the bizarre, the things that can be created with an imaginative mind has no boundaries.  For all that is profound in storytelling, it is the simple tale that can provide the purest of enjoyment.  In smaller films (commonly known as indie films), there is a poignancy to tell a tale that is grounded to its core.  It Is the enjoyment of watching something simply unfold that can bring satisfaction.  With Gifted, a film based around a very special child, it exudes that magic you find in any Indie flick.  Even when the film has some glaring issues in storytelling, tone and side characters, there is simple enjoyment you get in watching Gifted.  This is a film that truly gives you a feel-good moment.

Premise: A single man who is raising his prodigy niece gets thrust into a custody battle.  Through trying times, this man will learn what it means to truly raising a child.

The two main characters are:

Chris Evans as Frank Adler (Parental Guardian/Uncle)

Mckenna Grace as Mary Adler (Niece)

These two do an amazing job providing power and quality to what could be considered very cliché roles.   Evans plays Frank Adler, a man who must father his super intelligent niece, Mary, after his sister commits suicide.  That common ‘fatherly’ figure with a ‘protégé’ child is something that you find in many dramas.  What sparks that individual dynamic here is the quality of the acting combined with their interactions on screen.  Both Evans and Grace do a great job in providing a humanistic side to their one-dimensional characters.  They invoke the depth through their great chemistry.  Watching them progress through the issues that pertain to raising a ‘genius’ child adds another layer to common trope of the ‘father/daughter’ relationship.  The drama, intensity and banter helps provide a homely sense.  It allows for the audience to find themselves in the characters, feeling the highs and lows of what it means to be a parent and/or a child of skills.  The rest of the cast are relatively known names.  You can refer to the IMDb page for the ‘whose who’ in the film.  In regards to the secondary cast, they are on par with what the script provides.  Scant on detail or background development, you watch as they do a commendable job providing level and support to the main characters.  At most, they don’t detract from the simple enjoyment, but it is obvious they are just there to move the story along.  They don’t add any value beyond simply being ‘there’ at ‘certain’ moments for Frank or Mary.

The direction focuses on a simple tale about purpose and life.  For this specific indie flick, the main plot surrounds Mary and her unusual gift.  Being a super intelligent child at the elementary level, she is thrust into a conundrum of what her real purpose is in relations to growing up.  Should she live a normal life and be a kid or focus on achieving astronomical dreams.  From the beginning, you’re thrust into this ‘Tug-a-war’ trope.  There isn’t any focal point of development, you are given the facts of either side (through Frank and his mother), as they both become the catalyst that pulls against the themes of purpose and character growth.  The clichés overwhelm the characterization at times, but it doesn’t completely detract from the linear direction.  One of the other glaring parts is the tone.  The tone has a very fragmented sense, jarring the continual flow between serious dramatic scenarios to comedic hijinks.  Having multiple elements usually enhances a film, but when there is stark contrast with no connection, it takes away from some truly important details.  Even with the amount of obviousness, forced exposition and ‘by-the-book’ story structure having flaws, the film keeps moving forward through the focus on the main two characters.  You are always brought back by the ‘father/daughter’ like dynamic.  Once you get to the final act, it is a mixture of an epiphany styled reflection with an ultimate compromise.  All of this is brought together through the commonly used ‘deus ex machina’ plot device.  What this ‘device’ does is provide closure for everyone that has a part in Frank and Mary’s story without a need of explanation.  The epilogue provides a soothing reflection, giving you a feel-good ending you were hoping for in the end.

The visuals are based on a basic aesthetics of life in the 21st century.  You have a common reflection of a suburban like area for the characters to live in.  There isn’t anything here that affects the film’s enjoyment.  The score is mute at best.

Gifted is an indie film that has a lot of stuff that will pull at your heartstrings, but has comparable flaws throughout its runtime.  Even if there is plot issues, you can find enjoyment within the main two characters.  I recommend this for indie film fans.  For everyone else, this is worth a matinee.

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