Charm and a strong cast are the only two things that Gifted, a drama starring Chris Evans and the infuriatingly talented Mckenna Grace, truly has going for it. This unsubtle tearjerker makes for deeply frustrating viewing, because while the first-rate cast are compelling and moments of wit regularly shine through the script, each decent joke and genuinely emotive moment is swiftly undone by a subsequent misstep. The film starts well enough, but soon descends into eye-rollable sentimentality and dialogue that is at times so unconvincing not even Lindsay Duncan can save it.
The plot follows Frank (Evans) and his niece Mary (Grace) as they navigate both their own challenging relationship and the custody battle that begins as soon as Frank’s domineering mother (Duncan) learns that Mary is a maths prodigy like her mother before her.
Much as the two leads try to carry it, Gifted is still weighed down by everything from characters and romantic subplots that serve no purpose, to a deeply contrived storyline and a general sense of heavy-handed hamminess. Sometimes the movie succeeds in being tender, sometimes it sinks into laughable failure.
The way Evans and Grace interact with each other is admittedly convincing and genuinely sweet. Grace puts forward a fantastic performance that allows the film to be far more likeable than it has a right to be. Equally however, Jenny Slate is woefully miscast as the wholesome teacher/love interest, and her character, along with that of the shamefully underused Octavia Spencer, is almost entirely surplus to requirement.
Strong (if at times inconsistent) performances and witty one liners are what allow this movie to dog paddle its way to a conclusion in a semi-tolerable manner. And for all its cheesiness, Gifted will undoubtedly leave more than a few wet eyes in the house. But overdone, overwritten and overtly sentimental as it is, Gifted comes across more as the kind of story your nan would want to read on holiday: hammy and simple.
Gifted is released nationwide on 16th June 2017.
Watch the trailer for Gifted here: