The movie “Gifted” can best be described as a fairy tale, complete with an innocent heroine, a villain, and a few good friends, and a story that leads to a happy ending. Or maybe it is best described as a fantasy, where the forces of good battle the forces of evil, with the forces of good winning in the end. Like all fairy tales and fantasies, “Gifted” is often unrealistic, but we can still enjoy it and maybe even learn something.
The story revolves around 7-year-old Mary, a profoundly mathematically gifted little girl, who is solving problems in calculus while her age-mates are still learning basic arithmetic. What should be done with little Mary? That is the question the movie deals with and attempts to answer. As with all fairy tales and fantasies, it’s easy to see which characters represent good and which characters represent evil. Those on the side of good want Mary to be a little girl, with friends and a normal childhood. Those on the side of evil want to focus on Mary’s math abilities, pushing her to focus on her math abilities and ignoring her social and emotional needs.
In reality, determining what is best for a gifted child isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t always as clear cut as the movie might make us think. Parents of gifted children often feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to nurture their child’s talents and abilities. To outsiders, those who don’t understand gifted children, that nurturing can look like pushing. “Gifted” illustrates the difference between nurturing a gifted child’s interest and pushing a child.
One of the reasons it can be difficult to determine what’s best for a gifted child is that our own views and experiences affect our opinions, for better or for worse. This is what we see in “Gifted.” Mary’s Uncle Frank and grandmother Evelyn both allow their past to color their ideas of what is best for Mary. In the end, a compromise is made, which vanquishes “evil” and gives us happy ending. Unfortunately, the ending is highly unlikely, but it is a fairy tale so we’ll accept that the compromise is magical.
It would also have been better had Mary not been so profoundly gifted. After all, it’s difficult to miss the advanced abilities of a 7-year-old doing calculus. Of course the movie isn’t about identifying gifted children, but it is still likely to confirm the idea in the minds of some viewers that giftedness is as obvious and as rare as it appears to be with Mary.
In spite of the problems I see with the movie, I still recommend seeing it. In attempting to answer the question of what’s best for Mary, “Gifted” gives viewers a close-up look of the struggles gifted children and their families face, including social isolation, emotional distress, and even suicide. But viewers also see how others are there to support these children and their families.
Mary’s teacher, Miss Stevenson is one of the people who support not only Mary, but Mary’s Uncle Frank as well. Jenny Slate, who plays Miss Stevenson will have you wishing all gifted children had teachers like her. Chris Evans, who plays Uncle Frank is so convincing in his role that you are sure he must have had the same experiences Frank Adler had. But Mckenna Grace steals the show as little Mary. In real life, she may not be a math prodigy, but she is definitely a gifted actress.http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/review-of-the-movie-gifted/Reviewsgifted movie review,Movie Review