Taglines: How do you create an ordinary life for an extraordinary girl.
Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the seven-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary. Octavia Spencer plays Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady and best friend. Jenny Slate is Mary’s teacher, Bonnie, a young woman whose concern for her student develops into a connection with her uncle as well.
Gifted is a 2017 American drama film directed by Marc Webb and written by Tom Flynn. It stars Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer. The plot follows an intellectually gifted 7-year-old who becomes the subject of a custody battle between her uncle and grandmother. The film was released on April 7, 2017, by Fox Searchlight Pictures, and grossed $24.8 million in the United States and Canada and $17.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $42.6 million, against a production budget of $7 million.
The film went wide on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, and in its opening weekend grossed $3.1 million, finishing 6th at the box office. In its second weekend of wide expansion, it added more screens, and made $4.6 million, an increase of 47.5% from the previous week.
About the Story
In the morning of her first day at school, Mary (Mckenna Grace) is in a foul mood because she doesn’t want to go. She wants Frank (Chris Evans) to continue homeschooling her, but he says he’s taught her everything he knows, and she needs the experience. As soon as he sees the reluctant, sulking Mary off to school, he’s confronted by Roberta (Octavia Spencer), who’s his landlady and friend, and cares deeply for Mary. She tells him to get in his car and bring Mary back before it’s too late, afraid that she will be taken away once everyone realizes she’s a child prodigy. Frank tries to calm her down, saying Mary needs friends and social skills. Roberta isn’t convinced, but there’s nothing she can do, so she lets go.
At school, Mary is shown bored out of her mind as Bonnie (Jenny Slate), her teacher, goes over first-grade math problems with the rest of the class. Mary eventually speaks up, making it known that the lack of challenge is beyond her ability to bear. Bonnie warns her for speaking out of turn and starts asking her increasingly difficult arithmetic problems to make a point.
To her surprise, Mary answers them all. After recess, the Principal requests a walk-in observation of Bonnie’s class. As soon as she introduces herself to the children, Mary demands to know if she’s “the boss”, and upon confirmation, demands that she call Frank right away and tell him to get her out of there. When Frank comes to pick Mary up, Bonnie catches up to him on the front yard and tells him she thinks Mary might be a gifted child. Frank chalks it off to some simple algorithm he’s taught her and walks away before Bonnie can discuss the matter with him any further.
Bonnie then does her own research and finds out that Mary’s mom Diane was a Math genius, also, working on one of the Millennium Prize problems when she apparently took her own life and was survived by her brother Frank. She then confronts Frank at the bar she knows he hangs out on Friday nights and learns the back story. Diane, her sister, appeared at her doorstep out of the blue one night with Mary, who was just a baby at the time. She said she needed to talk to him but Frank, already late for a date, told her they’d talk when he got back. When he got back, Diane had committed suicide in the bathroom, and Mary was in his living room. He’s been raising her since then.
On the school bus one day, Mary witnesses bullying and she stands up for the victim, breaking the nose of the bully who’s five years her senior. Frank is called to the Principal’s office, where she tells him she can get a full ride for Mary at a nearby school for the gifted. Frank refuses the offer on the grounds that she wants Mary to have a normal childhood. The Principal then reaches out to Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), Frank’s mother and Mary’s grandmother.
Evelyn shows up at Frank’s door soon after and meets Mary for the first time. She’s a rich, bossy Englishwoman whose ideas of life and ambition Frank clearly disagrees with. She criticizes Frank’s lifestyle choices and demands to take Mary away with her to Boston. When Frank disagrees, she takes him to court.
In the court hearings and over that period of time, we find out more about the friction between Evelyn and Frank. Evelyn is disappointed in her dead daughter for being too weak to complete the Millennium Prize problem, disappointed in Frank for having quit his professorship at Boston University, and resentful of her late husband for disrupting her successful career.
She’s also having problems with her current husband, and they are separated. Frank doesn’t openly accuse of her anything but insists that Evelyn will deny Mary the normalcy a child needs in her life and that him being a freelance boat repairman is perfectly fine. Roberta stands by Frank throughout the ordeal, and his lawyer (Glenn Plummer) does a good job defending him. In the end, though, Evelyn wants to settle by putting Mary in foster care in proximity to Frank’s house and making her go to the school for gifted children.
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Jenny Slate, Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Julie Ann Emery, Keir O’Donnell, Candace B. Harris, Jona Xiao, Elizabeth Marvel, Keir O’Donnell, Glenn Plummer
Screenplay by: Tom Flynn
Production Design by: Laura Fox
Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh
Film Editing by: Bill Pankow
Costume Design by: Abby O’Sullivan
Set Decoration by: Vera Mills
Music by: Rob Simonsen
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive material.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: April 14, 2017