Everyone remembers their first day of school. The nervousness, the fear and the excitement, but what would that experience be like for a seven year old math prodigy?
Marc Webb’s film ‘Gifted’ set against the sunny backdrop of a seaside Floridian neighborhood — is about — as the title would suggest, a genius child, Mary Adler being enrolled into a relatively standard elementary school by her concerned uncle, Frank. Stomping to the breakfast table Mary makes it clear she is adverse to the idea of attending a “stupid school” full of “idiot friends.” This opinion is shared by her grandmother, Evelyn who believes that by not sending her to the Oaks Academy for Gifted Children, Frank would be “denying the girl her potential.” This difference of opinion in regards to how Mary should be raised goes all the way to court and “(compromises)” must be made.
Unlike most movies about genius individuals, where the focal point is about their genius abilities and the obstacles they overcome, ‘Gifted’ displays the inner struggles of and between the adults in Mary’s life. Her grandmother Evelyn as well as Mary’s teachers believe that she should be given “the level of scholarship she deserves.” However, Evelyn’s motive is more so self-centered. She, who was once a researcher at Cambridge University for mathematics dropped out after she got married and had children. So, instead Evelyn attempts to live her dreams first through her math prodigy daughter, Diane and then through her math prodigy granddaughter, Mary.
Frank, Mary’s uncle desires for his niece to live a ‘somewhat normal life.” His intentions unlike that of his mother come from a place of selflessness and duty in the light that he does not want Mary to go down the same path as his sister Diane and that he feels a sense of guilt for not being there for his sister when she needed him. As well as Evelyn’s and Frank’s individual internal conflicts, the film also depicts their fallen out relationship by having Frank address his mother by her first name rather than maternal references.
There is a clear theme of relationships running throughout the film with romantic, platonic, paternal, maternal and foster relationships portrayed and even those of the love as well as the hate between the character and a one-eyed orange cat named Fred.
Despite the plot of the film not offering many surprises and the course of the story being fairly guessable ‘Gifted’ is full of lighthearted humour and heartwarming scenes that could leave anyone in tears. At its essence, the film is teaching its audience the lesson that happiness and a worthwhile life is not defined by the magnitude of greatness one achieves, but is rather obtained by having the courage to follow ones own desires and giving others the room to follow theirs.