"We've discussed this ad nauseam." "What's ad nauseam?" "Oh, you don't know? Well, it looks like someone needs school." That's a witty excerpt of an argument between Chris Evans & McKenna Grace in Gifted, an amazingly heartwarming film. Evans plays Frank Adler, a boat repair man in Tampa, Florida. He lives with his 7-year-old niece, Mary (played by McKenna Grace), who is just about to start her first day in public school. She had been home schooled by Frank, after he became her guardian after his sister, Diane, died when Mary was 6 months old. At the time, Diane was a promising mathematician dedicated to solving the Navier-Stokes problem, one of the 7 unsolved Millenium Prize Problems. Mary has mastered advanced calculus among many other subjects under Frank's teachings. Frank has decided now to enter Mary into the public school system in order for her to make friends & have better social skills; however, Frank's landlady & friend, Roberta Taylor (played by Octavia Spencer), believes that Mary will be taken away because of her advanced knowledge. At school, Mary is bored with what she is being taught, & after she shows her remarkably advanced knowledge, her teacher, Bonnie Stevenson (played by Jenny Slate), believes that Mary is a child prodigy. The principal of the school offers Mary a scholarship to agifted school, since she is friends with the school's headmaster; however, Frank declines, once again stating that Mary needs a normal life.
A few days later, Frank's estranged mother, Evelyn (played by Lindsay Duncan), arrives in Tampa, seeking custody of Mary, believing Mary is a one-of-a-kind child prodigy that needs to be dedicated to mathematics. However, Frank wants her to be a kid, saying that Diane would've wanted that. Eventually, Frank & Evelyn face off in court, raising the question: Should a child prodigy have time to be a kid, or should the child try to become a genius in their respective field of excellence?
The cast is amazing. Marc Webb's direction is excellent. Tom Flynn's screenplay is amazing. And Bill Pankow's editing is excellent. This is one of the best films of the year so far.