2017, Movies

Gifted (2017, Marc Webb)

This is a film about one of those precocious child geniuses that only exist in Hollywood movies (and independent movies that wish they were Hollywood movies – I’m looking at your Good Will Hunting) and how such geniuses should be nurtured. In real life, nobody is quite as smart (or quite as high functioning if they are this smart) as they are in these films and that’s definitely true of a film with a 10-year-old playing a 7-year-old. (No wonder she seems so erudite for a 7-year-old!)

Whether the focus of education should be primarily focused on developing intellectual talents or should be focused primarily on socialization is a serious question; one that we as a society need to constantly ask ourselves, as we try to find a balance between those things in our education systems. But Hollywood movies are usually not the vehicle to discuss serious questions and that’s true of this drama as much as most Hollywood films. This movie is not about that question in the way that you might think based on the title. Rather, it uses this question as a vehicle for a typical Hollywood custody battle drama, with roles changed (uncle vs. grandmother, instead of a more conventional battle). And so whatever questions you might have about whether this kid (whos is smarter than possibly any 7-year-old who has ever existed) should be nurtured in a challenging school or nurtured by having friends are swept under the rug, so an uncle who has adopted his niece can so how much he has come to love a child he had no intention of caring for (which is the moral of, like, every fucking one of these movies about adoptive parents – well, the good ones anyway).

SPOILERS!

In the battle of education versus socialization, there is a compromise! We’re not really sure why that compromise wasn’t reachable without the custody battle but we get there without really understanding how because, as I said, this movie isn’t about that. It’s about an adoptive father’s love for his adopted daughter and how the system doesn’t want them to be together. Yawn.

4/10

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