Gifted (2017 film)

Gifted is a 2017 American drama film directed by Marc Webb and written by Tom Flynn. It stars Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer. The plot follows an intellectually gifted seven-year-old who becomes the subject of a custody battle between her maternal uncle and maternal grandmother. The film was released on April 7, 2017, by Fox Searchlight Pictures, and grossed $43 million worldwide. At the 23rd Critics' Choice Awards, Mckenna Grace was nominated for Best Young Actor/Actress. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Evans and Grace, but noted its predictability.

Gifted poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMarc Webb
Written byTom Flynn
Produced by
  • Karen Lunder
  • Andy Cohen
CinematographyStuart Dryburgh
Edited byBill Pankow
Music byRob Simonsen
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • April 7, 2017 (2017-04-07) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[2]
Box office$43 million[2]


In St. Petersburg, Florida, seven-year-old Mary Adler lives with her uncle and de facto guardian, Frank. Her best friend is her 43-year-old neighbor, Roberta Taylor. On her first day of first grade, she shows remarkable mathematical talent, which impresses her teacher, Bonnie Stevenson.

There, despite her initial disdain for average children her own age and her boredom with their classwork, Mary begins to bond with them when she brings her one-eyed cat, Fred, for show-and-tell. Later, she defends a classmate from a bully on the school bus by hitting him [the bully] in the face. After the incident, the principal encourages Frank to send Mary to a private school for gifted children, offering the opportunity of a scholarship. However, Frank turns it down. Based on his family's experiences with similar schools, he fears she will not have a chance at a "normal" childhood.

It emerges that Mary's mother, Diane, had been a promising mathematician, dedicated to the Navier–Stokes problem (one of the unsolved Millennium Prize Problems) before taking her own life when Mary was six months old. She has lived with Frank, a former college professor turned boat repairman, ever since.

The principal contacts Frank's estranged mother and Mary's maternal grandmother, Evelyn, who seeks to gain custody of Mary and move her to Massachusetts. Evelyn believes she is a "one-in-a-billion" mathematical prodigy who should be specially tutored in preparation for a life devoted to mathematics, much as Diane was. However, Frank is adamant that his sister would want Mary to be in a normal public school and have the childhood she did not have.

In court, Frank argues that Evelyn's parenting deprived Diane of a normal life; Evelyn had sent away a boy Diane was in love with, which was when she first attempted suicide. Evelyn argues that Frank is in no position to be a guardian, working a low-paying job without health insurance. Worried the judge will rule against him and he will lose Mary completely, Frank accepts a compromise brokered by his lawyer that sees Mary placed in foster care and attend the private school where Evelyn wants to have her enrolled. The foster parents live 25 minutes from Frank's home, he will be entitled to scheduled visits, and Mary will be able to decide where she wants to live after her 12th birthday.

Mary is devastated at being placed in foster care, and her foster father says she refuses to see Frank. When Bonnie sees a picture of Fred up for adoption, she alerts Frank. He retrieves the cat from the pound and, learning that Fred was brought in due to allergy issues, realizes that Evelyn, who is allergic to cats, is overseeing Mary's education in the guest house of Mary's foster home.

Frank then reveals to Evelyn, who had been a mathematician herself, that Diane had solved the Navier–Stokes problem but stipulated that the solution was to be withheld until Evelyn's death. Knowing that it meant everything to her to see Diane solve the problem, he offers her the opportunity to publish Diane's work if she drops her objection to him having custody of Mary. Evelyn agrees.

The film ends with Mary back in the custody of Frank, returning to public school and socializing with children her age while taking college-level courses.


  • Chris Evans as Francis "Frank" Adler, Mary's uncle, Evelyn's son and Diane's brother
  • Mckenna Grace as Mary Adler, the gifted niece of Frank, Diane's only daughter and Evelyn's granddaughter
  • Lindsay Duncan as Evelyn Adler, Mary's maternal grandmother, Frank's and Diane's mother
  • Jenny Slate as Bonnie Stevenson, Mary's teacher
  • Octavia Spencer as Roberta Taylor, Mary and Frank's neighbor
  • Michael Kendall Kaplan as Justin Gilmore, Mary's classmate
  • Glenn Plummer as Greg Cullen, Frank's attorney
  • John Finn as Aubrey Highsmith, lawyer for Evelyn Adler in the case for custody of Mary
  • Elizabeth Marvel as Gloria Davis, the school principal and Bonnie's boss
  • Jon Sklaroff as Seymour Shankland, the head of MIT's math department
  • Jona Xiao as Lijuan, a background character in the university scene who critiques the professor's equation
  • Julie Ann Emery as Pat Golding
  • Keir O'Donnell as Bradley Pollard, Mary's biological father
  • John M. Jackson as Edward Nichols, the judge of Mary's custody trial
  • Jordan Ellenberg as Professor, whose course Mary attends at the end of the film


In December 2014, Tom Flynn's screenplay was one of the 70 to make that year's Black List.[3] In August 2015, it was announced Chris Evans had been cast in the film, with Marc Webb directing.[4] In September 2015, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Lindsay Duncan and Jenny Slate joined the cast,[5][6] and in November 2015, Julie Ann Emery was also added.[7]

Filming began in October 2015 in Savannah, Georgia, as well as in Tybee Island, Georgia.[8] and finished in November 2015. Specific locations included May Howard Elementary School in Wilmington Island, Georgia and Emory University in Atlanta.[9]

Although the film is set in St. Petersburg, Florida, screenwriter Tom Flynn was unable to convince the producers to film in Florida, because the state was no longer providing financial incentives to movie makers; that made Georgia a more financially viable option.[10]

Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg, who was himself a child prodigy, was a mathematics consultant for the film;[11] Webb contacted him after reading his article[12] in The Wall Street Journal and asked him to share his experiences.[13] Ellenberg also cameos as a professor lecturing on the partition function and Ramanujan's congruences.[13]


The film was scheduled to be released on April 12, 2017, but was pushed up to April 7, 2017.[14]

Box officeEdit

Gifted grossed $24.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $18.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $43 million against a production budget of $7 million.[2]

The film went wide on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, and in its opening weekend grossed $3.1 million, finishing 6th at the box office. In its second weekend of wide expansion, it added more screens, and made $4.6 million, an increase of 47.5% from the previous week.[15]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Gifted has an approval rating of 73% based on 173 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Gifted isn't quite as bright as its pint-sized protagonist, but a charming cast wrings respectably engaging drama out of a fairly predictable premise."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film 3/4 stars, saying, "Sure, it's a simple, straightforward film, but sometimes that's all you need as long as its heart is true."[19] On Evans' performance, Owen Gleiberman of Variety said, "Chris Evans, abashed and rumpled, with a grease monkey’s can’t-be-bothered-to-shave beard, gives an engaged performance, exuding a homespun warmth we haven’t seen in the “Captain America” films."[20] Richard Roeper gave the film 4 out of 4 stars and said, "Gifted isn't the best or most sophisticated or most original film of the year so far – but it just might be my favorite."[21]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Online Film & Television Association Awards February 5, 2017 Best Youth Performance Mckenna Grace Nominated [22]
Teen Choice Awards  August 13, 2017 Choice Movie: Drama Gifted Nominated [23]
Choice Movie Actor: Drama Chris Evans Nominated [23]
Deauville American Film Festival September 1, 2017 Public's choice award Gifted Won [24]
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards December 17, 2017 Breakthrough Performance Mckenna Grace Won [25]
Best Performance by a Youth Won
The Overlooked Film of the Year Gifted Won
Women Film Critics Circle Awards December 17, 2017 Best Young Actress Mckenna Grace Nominated [26]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Young Actor/Actress Nominated [27]
NAACP Image Awards January 15, 2018 Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Octavia Spencer Won [28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gifted (2017)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Gifted (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Ford, Rebecca (15 December 2014). "The 2014 Black List Announced". Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (17 August 2015). "Marc Webb Sets Pic Pair: Chris Evans Set For 'Gifted'; Jeff Bridges, Rosamund Pike & Miles Teller Circle 'Only Living Boy'". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  5. ^ Busch, Anita (8 September 2015). "Octavia Spencer & 9-Year-Old Mckenna Grace Join Marc Webb's 'Gifted'". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (15 September 2015). "Jenny Slate Joins Chris Evans in Marc Webb's 'Gifted' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  7. ^ "'Better Call Saul's' Julie Ann Emery Joins Chris Evans in Marc Webb's 'Gifted' (Exclusive)". 5 November 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer begin filming 'Gifted' on Tybee Island". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Locations". IMDB. January 7, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  10. ^ "Movie "Gifted" set in St. Petersburg filmed in Georgia". Fox 13. April 10, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2019. Since Florida lawmakers put a stop to offering film incentives, productions, like "Gifted", have been forced to head north in search of a better deal.
  11. ^ Brown, Gretchen (April 27, 2017). "UW-Madison professor part of formula for 'Gifted'". Wisconsin Public Radio. Archived from the original on September 2, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan (May 30, 2014). "The wrong way to treat child geniuses". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Jackson, Allyn (August 2017). "Ellenberg in movie 'Gifted'" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 64 (7): 779. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2020 – via American Mathematical Society.
  14. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 1, 2016). "'Gifted' Trailer: Chris Evans Raising A Child Math Genius". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  15. ^ "'Fate Of The Furious' Drives Five Wide Releases Off The Road With $38.6M Second Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. April 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "Gifted (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "Gifted reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  18. ^ Box Office Mojo (April 20, 2017). "'Fate of the Furious' Set to Repeat at No. 1 as Five New Releases Hit Theaters". Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "Mini reviews: 'Gifted' oozes empathy; 'After the Storm' lacks it entirely". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (2017-03-30). "Film Review: 'Gifted'". Variety. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  21. ^ "Young math whiz gets a lesson in division in gripping 'Gifted'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  22. ^ "22nd Annual Film Awards (2017) - Online Film & Television Association".
  23. ^ a b Rebecca Rubin, JD Knapp; Rubin, Rebecca; Knapp, JD (2017-08-14). "Teen Choice Awards 2017: 'Riverdale,' Fifth Harmony Shut Out Competition". Variety. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  24. ^ SIMONNE, Mika. "HISTOIRE". Festival du Cinéma Américain de Deauville (in French). Archived from the original on 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  25. ^ "2017 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Winners -". Keith Loves Movies. December 20, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "The 2017 Women Film Critics Circle (WFCC) Winners". Next Best Picture. December 22, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  27. ^ Hammond, Pete (December 6, 2017). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads With 14; Netflix Tops TV Contenders". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  28. ^ "NAACP Image Awards:The Complete Winners List". January 15, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.

External linksEdit