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"Gifted" is heartwarming despite plot holes

“Gifted” explores the relationship and love between an uncle and niece who live together in Florida. When the niece, Mary Adler (McKenna Grace), begins first grade, she stuns her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) when she can complete complex math problems. The film follows the relationship between uncle Frank Adler (Chris Evans) and his niece in this non-traditional family during a custody battle to determine the future of the child.

On one side of this case, Evelyn, mother to Frank and grandmother to Mary, wants to gain custody of Mary to tutor her in math and help her to finish solving the math problem that her late mother began. 

Unfortunately, the court case, which is supposed to be the center of this film, has a few plot holes, and the film is definitely more enjoyable if you choose to let these slide. The charges of kidnapping that originally are brought against Frank during the custody battle would not likely allow him to continue to care for Mary in a real court case, and it is equally as unlikely that it would take over five years for these charges to be brought against him if he did actually kidnap her. 

This movie is full of witty quips between Mary and everyone who enters her life. Though her level of maturity is not necessarily realistic, since Mary is only supposed to be seven years old, her remarks are quite funny. She vocalizes relatable struggles of being a kid who isn’t entirely sure how to fit in yet. 

The relationship between Mary and her uncle and the distinct love between them is a driving force of this film - expect to tear up while watching. It is clear that this pair are everything to each other, and it is hard to watch any time that they think they might leave each other. The setting for this film is in Florida, so there are quite a few shots of them playing and holding hands on the beach at sunset. While this may normally come off as cliche, the dialogue between uncle and niece in these scenes keeps the shots interesting 

The grandmother, Evelyn, is the antagonist of the film, in the sense that she wants to take Mary from Frank in order to tutor her in mathematics. Pleasantly she turns out to be more complex than expected, especially in her relationship with Frank. Both Evelyn and Frank express that while the other is one of the most frustrating people each of them knows, they also love each other. The relationship between Frank and Evelyn is very relatable for anyone who has a family member that they don’t easily get along with. 

Grace beautifully juxtaposed her youth and innocence with intellectual maturity. With appearances in Mr. Church and Designated Survivor, she already shows a lot of promise. She shines in her role as Mary, who loves her uncle Frank as both a father and best friend. Even the relationship Mary has to her cat shows the viewer how big this kid’s heart is. Her love for others provides a heartwarming contrast to her sarcastic jabs at how bored she is in public school. 

Overall this movie is emotionally heartwarming. Grace shines in her role as Mary, and with the great supporting cast this movie shows how complex, stressful, funny and most importantly wonderful love can be. 

Grade B+

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