Whenever you are born with incredible gifts there will be some temptation to use them and make a name for yourself. Sometimes you may prefer to hide them away and live as a normal person though. This film delves into that classic debate and makes for a fun drama. It goes by reasonably fast and has a lot of strengths to it.
The movie starts by introducing us to Mary who is currently being looked after by Frank. Her mother destroyed herself a while back and seemingly it was due to the pressure of being a genius who had to try and solve a math problem that was so difficult it took her whole life and was nearly unsolvable. Frank wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to Mary so he’s kept her enrolled in a normal school and tries to make sure she doesn’t spend too much time studying. It’s all going rather well until her grandmother Evelyn shows up to try and take custody of Mary. If she wins then Mary will be going to a school for the gifted and put on an accelerated track to stardom. Can Frank put a stop to the madness?
Now in terms of the debate itself, naturally it should be left up to the kid eventually but while they are so young, they can’t reasonably make that decision. For example, Mary may like studying a lot but if Frank tells her to stop then she will. Likewise if Evelyn decides to put her in a big school and encourages her to live her life studying then she will do that. Because the kid is so susceptible right now you have to make the choice and ultimately I would be more on Frank’s side. Now, I think he should have taken her to the advanced school because she was so bored in the current one but she shouldn’t need the pressure of thinking she has to succeed.
Mary should still be in a lot of extra curricular activities and playing around outside to keep her balanced. I’d say it’s clear that Frank was doing a better job of watching over her than Evelyn ever could have. As the main character it’s not surprising that he would be the best pick but I wouldn’t even say it was that close. Evelyn wasn’t around all this time and I’d say she could have found Frank and Mary sooner if she really wanted to. So from the start you have some doubts.
As for Evelyn, she makes for a good antagonist. As the villain you don’t expect her to play fair and she certainly doesn’t but she makes for a good opponent. If anything I think the film lets her off rather easy by the end. She did actively try to murder Mary’s cat and that’s really a nonstarter. From that point she went from being the antagonist who still had Mary’s best interests at heart to someone who only saw her as a tool to be famous. Evelyn lost all sympathy points from then on and I think they went a little too far in making her so unreasonable. For most of the film it was a fairly decent back and forth where you could respect Evelyn even if you didn’t agree with her. That was thrown out the window with the cat part.
Frank is a good lead but I do think he made some really poor decisions that came back to bite him here. For starters, having an affair with the teacher was absolutely awful. That’s the one thing you really can’t do, particularly when Mary is right next door. Sure, he didn’t expect her to walk in but she’s literally next door. The odds of this happening are not 0. If you have to have an affair then go to a motel or something. Considering the high stakes though Frank should have absolutely been on his best behavior and not doing anything like this.
As for Roberta, she was a nice neighbor who did her best to look out for Mary. She calls Frank out whenever he is making a mistake and also serves as a good friend to Mary. Mary didn’t exactly get along with the other kids at school so this way she at least had someone to talk to. As for Mary, she’s a decent enough kid. She does tend to overreact to things as they do but since she was smarter than most, her dialogue was also a bit better than some of the other kids you would tend to see. Would have been nice if she didn’t decide to just ditch Frank though. I know she was disappointed but cutting him out of her life was a bit disappointing.
Again, Frank could and should have been better like not blowing up at her about the weekend part but they had gotten along for so long that you think she would have given him another chance. As for the teacher, she’s okay but like Frank I have to blame her a bit for this affair as well. Having a relationship with the parent of a kid in her class is really a bad idea. I don’t see any way that something good can come out of that. It will backfire horribly every single time without fail.
Going back to Frank making mistakes though, another one is at the ending. So he catches Evelyn breaking the arrangement they had by seeing Mary in secret. He should have ran over to the judge and told him everything. Get her to move out of the place and then not even give her the notebook from Mary’s mother. I don’t think Evelyn earned that and having the judge give a complete victory to Frank would have been ideal. I think it would have been very difficult for Evelyn to have talked her way out of this one. The very fact that the foster parents were bought out should also get them into trouble for being negligent guardians.
Taking the cat to a shelter to be executed makes the whole thing even worse. I feel like a lot of characters got off easy now that I think about it. Frank should have taken them to town. Well, I suppose the important thing is that Mary’s in a good space now though. Hopefully everything will be on the up and up now as she has a good balance of being a genius and doing normal things. A sequel about her while Mary is grown up could be a good amount of fun.
Overall, Gifted is a solid film. There are some questionable decisions and moments that keep this one from being a bit better but in all you’ll still have a good time. The pacing is on point and the film has a solid cast of characters. I thought Mary’s character was handled well here and the ending should be satisfying for all parties involved. It’s a drama that never tends to get too dramatic and the writing is good so it was a well made film all around.