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Cover Media logo Cover Media 22/06/2017

For the past few years, Chris Evans has been preoccupied with playing superhero Captain America, the role that has made him a box office star. But he's hung up his lycra to make an appearance in movie Gifted, in which he plays Frank Adler, a doting uncle who has been raising his super-smart niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) following the death of his sister.

Turns out Mary has inherited her mother's genius-level mathematical talent, but he wants to send her to a regular school so she can "be normal" and have a social life, yet as she's miles ahead of her classmates, her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) struggles to give her challenging work.

Frank's mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) intervenes, arguing that Mary needs to be with her, in an environment which will help her to realise her full potential, and as Frank disagrees they end up in a custody battle.

From Good Will Hunting to A Beautiful Mind, there have been many films about gifted individuals so this could have easily felt like it was treading over old ground but Mary's age and the custody angle make it feel fresh and very different. Plus Grace's standout performance definitely sets it apart. Grace is an impressive young actress whose energy and personality carry the movie helping the viewers invest in her struggle.

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Mary is mean and feisty with very little friends but she is keenly observant and wise to an adult level. Grace steals all of her scenes and navigates all of these traits, which provide a lot of the light-hearted moments, with ease, and one particularly emotional scene will have audiences tearing up.

Evans is the put-upon father figure who loves Mary but laments what his life could have been like without her, frequently relying on neighbour Roberta (Octavia Spencer) to babysit while he goes out. Frank is stuck between wanting to honour his sister's wishes and doing what's best for Mary and is unsure which way to turn. It was refreshing to see Evans in this light and it shows he can do more career wise than be a superhero. His chemistry with Grace is wonderful and heartwarming and he gets some sweet moments with his real-life ex-girlfriend Slate.

The nature of the movie means the ending is somewhat predictable and it is fairly sentimental but it's still a delightful and engaging drama with a standout performance from a young actress with a bright future ahead of her.

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