Movie Review: "Gifted"

By: 
John Thomas
Mckenna Grace as Mary (right)

Mame in “Auntie Mame” isn’t the only aunt or uncle who has faced the challenges of raising the child of a deceased sibling. Take Frank Adler (Chris Evans) for example, who at the death of his sister assumed responsibility for raising his young niece, Mary (Mckenna Grace), at his home in rural Florida. Before that time Mary’s residence had been in Massachusetts.

Frank and “Mame” each have visions as to how the children (Mary and “young Patrick”) should be raised, cared for and educated. The two guardians each face major obstacles. Mame’s obstacle is Mr. Babcock who wants Patrick enrolled in a private school in Manhattan. Frank has to deal with his mother, Evelyn Adler (Lindsay Duncan) and her wishes to enroll her granddaughter in a school for gifted children – one where the girl’s mathematical genius can be developed.

Fortunately for each surrogate parent, they have the support of a friend; Mame has her pal Vera Charles and Frank has his neighbor Roberta Taylor (Octavia Spencer). Both friends offer child rearing advice in addition to their support to these new-found parents.

Drenched in the sunshine of Florida, Frank and Mary’s life bumps pleasantly along until an ominous cloud appears at their doorstep – Frank’s mother Evelyn. She has come to Florida to gain guardianship of her granddaughter by whatever means necessary.

Reasoning with her son doesn’t work. He remains adamant that his sister’s wishes for the child’s rearing be honored, that is, for Mary to live a normal life, attend a normal school and have friends her own age. Court is the next option for Evelyn, and then court again, until after much deliberation and many tears, a shaky agreement is reached.

Evelyn invites Mary to spend a few days with her in Boston. She hopes to tempt her granddaughter to find that living in a more educationally stimulating environment more desirable than rural Florida. The idea works for a while, but eventually Mary returns home to Frank. Evelyn decides to go to “Plan B.” She appears again in Florida, this time with a new scheme.

This new plan turns out to be unsatisfactory as well. Without much hope of reaching a more appropriate arrangement for Mary, Frank is forced to go to extreme measures to remove his mother from the guardianship equation. There is only one thing Frank feels would tempt Evelyn to relinquish her control over Mary.

The influential documentation that he had was hidden away in a box since the death of his sister. With much drama, he presents the box containing this documentation to Evelyn. It is now her choice, to take the box and leave Mary, or leave the box with Frank and take Mary. There is frantic anguish, pain and conflict in her eyes as she decides whether to take Mary or the box.

Directed by Mark Webb, this is a must-see movie.

johan@beachcomber.news

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