The plot follows intellectually gifted 7-year-old Mary (Mckenna Grace) who demonstrates extraordinary mathematical talent on her first day of school. This propels her into a ferocious custody battle between her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) and grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan). Frank is adamant that Mary be enrolled in regular public school while her grandmother believes that Mary is a "one-in-a-billion" mathematical prodigy who should be specially tutored in preparation for a life devoted to mathematics. It emerges that Mary's mother had been a promising mathematician, dedicated to the Navier–Stokes problem before committing suicide when Mary was six months old. Mary has to deal with the swarm of adults deciding her future for her and the new details surrounding her mother’s death while desperately trying to cling on to some sense of normalcy.
The charming cast is what makes Gifted worth seeing above all else. It’s not Chris Evan’s best role by any stretch of the imagination but like Snowpiercer, it shows what else he is capable of outside of being Captain America. Octavia Spencer, who plays a relatively small part, has the funniest lines and adds much needed levity in the midst of the growing drama. However, I really wish the narrative took some left turns because generic storytelling only works up to a point and it’s what holds this movie back from being a great picture. That being said, I found myself captivated by certain scenarios that pull at the heartstrings in a big way.
There is also a blatant amount of exposition in this movie that makes it hard to sit through at times. The several court scenes have the most impassioned exchanges but suffer from too much information delivered in bite sized sequences. At a runtime just under two hours the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome but certain excerpts could have easily been edited out without much consequence to the overall story. Still, most dialogue driven scenes are well paced and will hold your attention. The final confrontation between Frank and Evelyn is powerful and will likely leave a lasting impact on the audience.
Gifted is a well-executed independent movie with compelling emotional drama that only intensifies as the film goes on, culminating in a touching yet predictable resolution. It’s an interesting next step in director Marc Webb’s career, who has worked on everything from romantic comedies ((500) Days of Summer) to giant blockbusters (The Amazing Spider Man). Despite the safe story, the memorable moments are enough to make this something worth your time.