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From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
Subject: Review: Gifted (2017)
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Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2017 09:41:46 -0800 (PST)
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Subject: Review: Gifted (2017)
From: Mark Leeper <mleeper@optonline.net>
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               (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is something of a re-working of the aphorism, 
    "It's nice to be important, but it is more important to be 
    nice."  Bachelor Frank Adler is raising Mary, a 
    seven-year-old who is a great child prodigy.  Mary's school 
    finds out they have a genius in their first grade, and they 
    want to teach the girl to fully develop her skills.  Frank 
    resists, wanting instead to give Mary (his niece) a normal 
    school experience.  Frank's mother enters the argument on 
    the side of the school.  The issue comes down to whether 
    special students need to get special attention to make the 
    most of their talents.  Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

If a child shows great potential to be highly intelligent, should 
her intelligence be specially nurtured into making her a leader or 
should she be treated like any other child and raised to be 

Director Marc Webb gives us a story of a seven-year-old girl who 
has the mathematics ability of at least a graduate student.  Mary 
(winningly played by eleven-year-old Mckenna Grace) is one such 
gifted child.  Her grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) wants to 
give the child special schooling and training.  Mary's uncle and 
guardian, Frank (Chris Evans who in other films plays Captain 
America), wants Mary treated as much as possible like any of her 
peers.  Her grandmother thinks that not developing that child into 
a world-beating genius would be the worst kind of negligence.  The 
disagreement comes to a court trial and a custody battle.

Nominally the main character is Chris Evans, but eleven-year-old 
Mckenna Grace grabs our attention whenever she is on-screen.  She 
has a surprising control of her facial expression.  This season she 
also is feature as a young Tanya Harding in I, TONYA.  Another 
expressive face is Octavia Spencer (of HIDDEN FIGURES) as Mary's 
next-door neighbor.  I am not sure exactly what she is doing in 
this movie unless to demonstrate that there are people who like 
Mary in spite of her differences in mentality.  Lindsay Duncan 
plays Evelyn Adler, the grandmother who is convinced she should 
force Mary into studying mathematics.

The film lets the viewer decide who is right in the issue of Mary's 
education, but they do put a heavy thumb on the judgment scale.  We 
have seen Pinocchio and "Star Trek"'s Data really want to become 
like us real humans.  The best thing to be is a real live normal 
person.  Tom Flynn, who wrote the screenplay, makes the two people 
who know mathematics stiff and dehumanized.  (I can tell you from 
my days in contact with some very good mathematicians that many 
mathematicians are people who spend their careers following their 
curiosity (mathematical or otherwise) are usually more closely in 
touch with their humanity than nearly anyone else.

In the final analysis I would say that there are few enough truly 
gifted students that society can well afford to cultivate these 
few.  Everyone will benefit by giving these people the choice to 
make very real contributions.  And the film's implicit implication 
that the truly gifted will be dehumanized is a straw bogyman.  I 
rate GIFTED a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.  One touch I 
do appreciate is that mathematics on the blackboard looks like the 
real thing.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper