'Gifted' review: Nothing special
Marc Webb’s Gifted, in a nutshell, tells the story of Frank Adler (Chris Evans), an ex-Boston university professor, and his battle against his British mother (Lindsay Duncan) over the custody of his dead sister’s genius daughter (McKenna Grace).
Webb’s direction, coupled with Tom Flynn’s rudimentary screenplay, is overwrought with the details for convenient endearment.
The little girl is artificially adorable, with her front teeth missing and adult-like demeanor that highlights her minuscule frame. There is a one-eyed cat that steals the spotlight once the domestic drama gets a little bit tiresome. There is also an overly sweet neighbor (Octavia Spencer) who, from time to time, brings the beleaguered characters back to Earth with her tacked-on ordinary-person wisdom.
A tearjerker that works too hard for the most meager of rewards, Gifted is most effective when it meanders out of its straightforward plot to reveal characters that would be more interesting if they weren’t in an emotionally manipulative film.
There are nice touches here and there.
The film has scenes that evoke an earnestness that make the whole thing more bearable. For instance, when Frank and his mother suddenly share a light-hearted moment instead of fighting or when Frank attempts to start a romance amidst his legal worries.
Unfortunately, these precious breathers are short-lived.
Gifted is too adamant in its quest for conveniently-earned sobs to grant its characters other layers. The characters here have simplistic motives. They are made somewhat human by the fine performances of Duncan, Evans, and even Grace, who manages to evoke an authentic candor despite the put-on charisma.
Ode to ordinariness
Gifted is an ode to ordinariness. It champions normalcy.
The film sympathizes with the middlebrow, sometimes to the point of scorning and deriding the elite and their ivory towers. Sure, there is clear merit to the film’s simple-minded perspective, yet in its effort to carve a condensed melodrama out of compromising talent, it reduces whatever moral and social discourse the film has to trite emotions that are dime a dozen.
For a film about the conflicts of being special, Gifted is a bit too typical to really stand out. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.