Just two weeks ago I was talking to a friend about the last time a movie fell in to the ‘I must see that again’ category for me. When was the last time I fell in love with the characters, with the story, with the scenery? It had been ages. My top 10 movie list was filled with films I first saw years ago.
That is until I sat in the Little Theater at on the Fox Searchlight Studio Lot and saw the premiere of the new movie Gifted, starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Octavia Spencer and Jenny Slate.
Here is a quick preview.
The performances are real. And raw. I actually forgot I was watching actors. Sitting in the dark, I was so consumed by the story itself and the emotions of the cast, I was lost in the setting, in Mary’s quirky, honest performance, in Frank’s love of his niece, in Roberta’s fierce protective instincts and Bonnie’s heartfelt desire to seek what is best for both Mary and Frank
You will laugh and cry. I ADORE movies that allow me to experience a range of emotions. I WANT to be invested. Gifted gets an A+ in this arena. I laughed out loud (a rarity for me). I found myself sitting with my mouth wide open. I was indignant. I was worried. I cheered. And yes, I cried. The performances were so believable, you feel as though you are listening to friends share their life with you. (How does McKenna Grace dance her little soul out AND deliver on heart-wrenching moments? – When interviewed, she said the director and cast allowed her all the time she needed to prepare for the hard scenes. She said she would sit quietly and take herself ‘to a dark place’ in order to unearth the hurt and sadness needed in certain moments.) You will be awed by her talent.
You will root for the characters. You WANT Frank to champion Mary. You WANT Mary to be allowed a proper childhood. You WANT Roberta to stop Mary from hurting. You WANT Bonnie to be Mary’s teacher. You WANT Mary’s grandmother to get the closure she needs.
The essence of the movie – that you can choose your family – will hit home. At least it did for me. We obviously don’t choose our bloodlines, but we CAN choose the people we allow in our world – the people who inspire us, guide us, champion us, fight for us. The message is clear, heart-felt and life-affirming.
It is a family movie. I know. It is PG-13, but I was delighted to have my tween daughter in the audience with me. She was awed my McKenna’s talent, in love with the story and for the first time EVER, she cried during certain scenes. Having her experience the movie was truly a gift (pun intended). I love that it inspired conversation between us and allowed her to reflect on her own experience as both a student and daughter.
You know what else I LOVED? How truly honest, real and FUN this cast is in person. They truly like each other (seriously – watch the interviews! McKenna HUGS Chris because she worries about hurting him during filming, she made him have a ‘swear jar’ – $5 for bad words and $10 for ‘the big one’ – and then she donated the money to charity, and Octavia and Jenny are CLEARLY friends outside of filming) They joked, teased each other, were self-deprecating and couldn’t say enough good things about the experience of filming this movie together.
Insider bonus: Octavia came to set EVERY DAY – even when she wasn’t in a scene – she sees value in learning from others. How much do I love this?
GO. SEE. GIFTED.
And then come back and tell me what you thought.
(And for a little further convincing – take a look at my small girl, Delaney’s take on our experience.