Rated PG-13

101 Minutes

Released April 7

Anyone who is a Bachelor/ Bachelorette addict (it’s OK … read on, you don’t have to admit it) will remember that the term “emotional intelligence” was annoyingly overused in the last installment. However, that concept is actually a vital and often overlooked element of our education as humans. Emotional Intelligence is in fact the theme of the film Gifted, a story about a man (Chris Evans) who is raising his child prodigy niece (McKenna Grace) after his sister, the child’s mother, has died. His goal to give the child a normal childhood seems maddeningly elusive.

This is one of the most skillfully directed movies I’ve seen in a long time. Director Marc Webb and editor Bill Pankow have created a masterpiece. The colors in each scene are crucial to the emotional threads tying it together. Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh provides expressive close-ups which are edited flawlessly into the narrative, as are long shots that establish the beauty and richness of the environment of the South where the story takes place. Georgia was a fine “stand-in” for the story’s setting of rural Florida. The score by Rob Simonsen is a carefully orchestrated backdrop that provides touches of musical color to the expression of the actors and also links us to the surroundings.

McKenna Grace is a natural. At her young age, she has had just enough experience to become completely comfortable in front of the camera. She plays the President’s daughter on the TV series Designated Survivor. McKenna’s boisterous personality endows her character “Mary” with charisma. She seems to immediately become real on screen. She has that lack of fear of opening up on stage or in front of the camera that many kids do, before social consciousness sets in. McKenna is a joy to watch, a remarkable kid with many layers of emotion, obviously whip–smart. Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer are wonderful in this film as well.

I found myself truly pulled in to this movie. I could relate to the characters and their struggles. I felt a familiarity with Mary’s seemingly easy transition between a simple lower middle class environment and the cold intellectual academic upper class household, then to the home of a seemingly proper picture-perfect family. Her struggles to fit into the social scene of a normal classroom are depicted with sensitivity. I would not be surprised to see this film receive some nominations at next year’s Oscars.

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

 

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