Review: Family drama Gifted about a young maths prodigy doesn’t add up

Mckenna Grace as Mary and Chris Evans as Frank in Gifted. Picture: Twentieth Century Fox/Wilson Webb

Mckenna Grace as Mary and Chris Evans as Frank in Gifted. Picture: Twentieth Century Fox/Wilson Webb - Credit: PA

A precocious six-year-old girl with a beautiful mind is the glittering prize of an acrimonious custody battle in Marc Webb's drama that seems stubbornly illogical and not properly thought through.

Gifted (12A)


There's something about the inscrutably incomprehensibility of theoretical mathematics – those strings of punctuation-heavy gibberish that scrawl across blackboards in Stephen Hawking biopics – that affronts the rest of humanity.

It's so incomprehensible, so elitist, that it brings out the worst in us. In Hollywood films the response to it seems to be an urge, possibly unconscious, to confront it with heightened, aggressive stupidity, to cut these smarty pants down to size, while still appearing to express admiration for them.

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Gifted is formed from a truly hideous equation: Good Will Hunting + cute child + courtroom drama = a winner.

Penned in broad strokes by screenwriter Tom Flynn, Marc Webb's film features 10-year-old Mckenna Grace in the pivotal role.

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Chris Evans plays Florida boat repairman Frank Adler who home schools his seven-year-old maths prodigy niece Mary, who inherited her passion for algebra from her late mother, and ensue she has a 'normal' life.

Enter evil glamourous English granny (Lindsay Duncan) to fight him for custody so she can send her to a school for gifted children.

The film's problem is that it is based on a fallacy – the kid is an objectionable smart arse, and I'd have packed her off to the nerd farm as soon as possible.

These kind of melodramas are supposed to be manipulative, but all the calculations are askew here. The court case exists in a strange adjunct, almost unrelated to the rest of the film.

Almost every action in the film seems stubbornly illogical and not properly thought through, with character actions following formulas that bear little relation to their situation.

Towards the end Evans makes a decision, a compromise, that is so pointless, so utterly ridiculous that it seemed to negate everything that has happened prior to that point, and so enraged me that I had to restrain myself from standing up and shouting out my objection at the screen.

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