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GIFTED

SYNOPSIS:
Frank (Chris Evans), a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) is drawn into a custody battle with his mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan).

Review by Louise Keller:
The story may play out by the numbers, but thanks to a superb cast (and astute direction by The Amazing Spiderman's Marc Webb), Gifted is a welcome package: entertaining, engaging, sweetly funny and moving. Casting is key and here, it is credit to young Mckenna Grace (who plays the 7 year old maths genius Mary) to create a character that is natural and lacks precociousness. It is not always easy for a youngster to deliver lines that are not normal child-speak without sounding contrived. She is extraordinary.

Chris Evans is rock solid as the loving uncle who lives in Florida, repairs boats and whose priority is to ensure Mary has a normal life. 'Try being a kid', he tells her as he puts her on the bus for her first day at school - with other kids. Their relationship is utterly convincing - whether it is having child-friendly fun together or exchanging meaningful dialogue about life-changing issues. As for the first day at school? We chuckle, but it ends badly.

Apart from Frank, in Mary's life, there is her one-eyed tabby cat Fred, commendably placid and co-operative. He even ventures to the beach for a family outing. But Fred is not just there for decoration; he plays an important role. Plus there is Roberta (Octavia Spencer), the loving next-door neighbor, with whom Mary enjoys karaoke and a weekly Saturday night sleepover.

Also key is the casting of Jenny Slate as Mary's first grade teacher Bonnie. Slate is warm and real and scenes like the truth and dare scene involving tequila help round out the character before propeling her into the role of Frank's romantic interest. Lindsay Duncan as Mary's controlling, wealthy British grandmother Evelyn fits the mould; her courtroom outburst, where some key moments take place, is a tour de force.

Watch out for the moving hospital scene, while keep a tissue handy for the escalation of the custody issue and resolution. There are a few surprises but it is the fate of this angry, happy, sad, brilliant and cute little girl that is first and foremost in our hearts.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

GIFTED (TBA)
(US, 2017)

CAST: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer

PRODUCER: Andy Cohen, Karen Lunder

DIRECTOR: Marc Webb

SCRIPT: Tom Flynn

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stuart Dryburgh

EDITOR: Bill Pankow

MUSIC: Rob Simonsen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Laura Fox

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 31, 2017






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