Directed by Marc Webb, Gifted is a film that analyses human connections and family relationships. Webb’s technique focuses on the characters and their journey and most of the film is shot closer to the protagonists to showcase their body language and facial expressions.
Without wearing the superhero uniform, Chris Evans is, once again, dressing the part of a man ready to sacrifice his life to protect his niece from the world who took her mother away from her.
After losing his sister, Frank is left with his young niece and has to take care of her. However, Mary is not an ordinary child. Just like her mother, she is gifted with a brilliant mind with an inclination for solving math problems.
Frank knows it and he wants to protect her from her grandmother, Evelyn, whose only intention is to use her gift to prove one of the most difficult physics’ theory, just like she did with her own daughter.
The bond between Frank and Mary is strong. The passionate reactions they have to what happens during the film are even stronger because of the camera constantly following them at close range. Frank will fight against his mother to keep Mary and let her have a normal life balancing it between her passion for math and her need to have a childhood.
This scrutiny also highlights the actors’ commitment to their characters.
The movie is carried on both Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace’s shoulders. Both of them truly become Frank and Mary. Their bond feels real and the affection for each other is palpable throughout the film. Chris Evans’ talent is ever present in each scene. His commitment to the story is remarkable as well as his deep understanding of his character’s story. As usual, he gives his best performance during the most dramatic moments for Frank, showcasing all his rage and frustration of not being able to take care of his niece.
Mckenna Grace is a natural and her presence brings light on the screen. Particularly remarkable in her performance are the several moments in which Mary feels betrayed by Frank. Her reaction is strong and raw and in those moments the audience feels closer to her pain and more involved in the story.
Along with them, Octavia Spencer is the perfect support actress who is there to compliment the two protagonists’ work and commitment to the story.
Lindsay Ducan’s portray of the ruthless Evelyn is impeccable. Her character doesn’t fall into the stereotypical antagonist. Evelyn is a well rounded woman who lost so much in her life and is shaped by all her losses. However, in the end she has the chance to redeem herself and all her past mistakes by compromising with Frank. Duncan is capable of highlighting both Evelyn’s strength and weaknesses in the blink of an eye and her strong conflict with Chris Evans’ Frank feels even more real, thanks to their deep understanding of their characters.
Even though it is a movie highly focused on emotions and human connections, it can’t be considered a tearjerker. Throughout the film, there are a couple of scenes in which it is almost easy to shed a tear, however the narrative doesn’t cut too deep into the pain and gives to the audience a quick positive resolution.
Although Webb doesn’t risk it by exploiting the dramatic side of the story, Gifted is a strong and emotional film that delicately analyses human relationships and family bond. It wants to remind us that no matter the most extraordinary circumstances, family will always be the only thing that really matter.
Gifted is out now UK cinemas.