Gifted (3 stars)

Gifted

Chris Evans and director Marc Webb leave behind the superheroes for a schmaltzy drama

Chris Evans throws down his Captain America shield to take on a role that highlights his dramatic capabilities then squanders them with a rote story. Evans plays Frank, who has been looking after his young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) ever since his sister committed suicide some years before. Mary shares the same mathematical gifts as her mother, something Frank has long tried to hide to ensure her a normal childhood. When school teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) uncovers Mary's talents, and Frank's mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) arrives to stake a belated claim on the girl, Frank finds he has to face a future he is unprepared for.

As solid and watchable as Evans is, it's not enough to lift Gifted above movie-of-the-week territory. And, while Grace, Slate and Duncan all turn in excellent performances, their efforts are similarly short-changed by the screenplay. The story ostensibly revolves around Mary – and it's a huge treat to see a young female character with an aptitude and love for maths – but Gifted is just another narrative about one ordinary man's journey for personal redemption. As Mary is passed from pillar to post, all in the name of safeguarding her future, the dramatic focus stays firmly on Frank as he struggles with his parental responsibilities, strikes up a flirtation with Bonnie and endures a difficult relationship with his overbearing mother.

After a foray into blockbusters with his two Spider-Man movies, director Marc Webb returns to the character study terrain of his debut 500 Days of Summer. Whereas that was a quirky and unique take on the well-worn romantic comedy, however, Gifted treads a much more conventional path. Emotionally overwrought and peppered with schmaltzy dialogue, it's clear how this story will end right from the opening credits.

General release from Fri 16 Jun.

Gifted

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 101 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Marc Webb
  • Cast: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan
  • UK release: 14 April 2017

Frank (Evans) has been looking after his mathematically gifted niece Mary (Grace) ever since his sister committed suicide, but then his mother stakes a claim on the girl. Movie-of-the-week stuff about one man’s journey for personal redemption, emotionally overwrought and schmaltzy.

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