We were a guest of BeyondPr for the Gifted film press junket in Los Angeles. All travel, accommodations, and food were covered by Fox Searchlight.
There are many dramas that pull at your heart strings, but Gifted, a new film showcasing the family dynamics between an uncle who is trying to raise his niece who happens to also be a mathematical genius, will send you reeling into tears more times than you expect. Take tissues! You'll need them.
Frank, the uncle masterfully played by Chris Evans in a complete reversal of his superhero self, is a blue collar guy who struggles with giving seven-year-old Mary (McKenna Grace) a balanced, ordinary life after her mother (and Frank's sister) commits suicide. Frank is Mary's only parent and is all she really knows. Even when Mary can do math problems the likes of which give professors fits, Frank wants her to live a life as a child and not as a little adult. Frank's neighbor and surrogate mother to Mary, Roberta (Octavia Spencer), plays a small role in the film, but her presence adds to the movie's charm as she provides moral support to Frank and a maternal presence for Mary. Everyone involved in Mary's life wants the best for her even her British grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) who only comes poking around once Mary's mathematical genius is discovered.
Much of Gifted plays out in a dreary courtroom where Frank and Evelyn fight over the future of Mary's life, upbringing, and education. Frank, who has raised her from birth, doesn't want his mother to ruin her like she ruined his sister who was also a math genius and took her own life. Ultimately, Mary is sent to a foster home by the court and she believes her uncle didn't fight hard enough for her even when he promised to. And Evelyn finds a way to see her at the foster home (Frank is discouraged from doing so) and imposes her mathematical dreams and aspirations on her granddaughter even taking her to the local university to do complex math equations on the board that McKenna Grace memorized with a song she and her mom made up during filming.
The movie ends in a sweet way that viewers can see coming from the outset of the film, but because there are many twists and turns in Gifted, you're relieved when Mary gets to be with Frank as she was in the beginning. Parts of the movie do ring loudly as overly cliched, but they serve their purpose well.
There are tender moments in the film with beautiful scenes between both the two leads: Frank and Mary and even some with Roberta. We won't spoil those for you. You'll know when those scenes have arrived because you'll be crying.
Mary's teacher Bonnie played by Jenny Slate figures out Mary is a child prodigy and also winds up sleeping with Frank, a move she immediately regrets and which throws another layer of complexity to the movie. Even with a quick bed scene between Frank and Bonnie, the movie is still a family film. Don't worry about taking the kids!
"It was certainly the type of film I like," said Chris Evans at a press junket we attended in Los Angeles. "I have a big family and understand the complexity. There is a tenderness I haven't experienced in awhile in a work setting."
Gifted opens in select cities on April 7 and everywhere on April 12.
During the press conference, you can tell the actors got along quite well off screen as easily as they did on screen. It was a pleasure to witness and makes the movie even that more lovely.