Despite the tragedy seven-year-old Mary faced when she lost her parents, nothing ever stopped her from pursuing the incredible mathematical talent she was born with. This mathematical talent eventually led her to make the important life decision the movie Gifted revolves around: skipping straight to college and never experiencing social interaction with peers her own age, or going to elementary school and delaying learning how far her “gift” could take her.
The movie begins on Mary’s first day of school when she demonstrates both her mathematical talent and intelligence in front of the class. The belief that she had to be challenged at a university for “gifted” students was the dominant view of most of the adults in her life, apart from her uncle, who was raising her. He cared more about her happiness, opposing the idea of “turning her into a problem-solving machine.” The sudden appearance of Mary’s grandmother, Evelyn, who believes Mary is a mathematical prodigy, leads to a reevaluation of what Mary’s future should look like. Evelyn finds a special tutor for Mary and pushes for her to devote her life to mathematics like her mom, who was a mathematician. The conflict between Mary’s uncle and grandmother continues throughout the film until its last moment when Mary is finally allowed the option of returning to public school to socialize with children her age while also taking college-level classes.
Aside from the compelling story, the film is also visually appealing, with many scenes on the beautiful beach in front of Mary’s uncle’s home and beautiful sunsets filmed in California.
While there were some comedic aspects, much of the movie was spent unravelling a lot of meaningful themes and morals.
The movie examines the important choices people face in life, in this case either giving up on improving Mary’s mathematical ability or social ability. Both required sacrifice. The movie also reveals the theme of making one’s own choices versus choices made for us by others. The movie seems to conclude that the choices made by oneself bring the least regret and the most joy. It is Mary who finds a middle path: attending college and elementary school at the same time, allowing her to pursue the benefits of both.
Furthermore, Gifted shows that an important facet of being a family is always standing up for each other and supporting family members’ decisions and the outcomes. Although she was a lot smarter than the average student, Mary’s uncle consistently supported Mary’s happiness and her choices, which he believed was most important of all.
Finally, the movie reminds us never to forget the negative sign on the exponent when doing advanced calculus.