Gifted, the Movie

I saw Gifted last night with Cub as my date.  First of all, and this will show you how long it’s been since I’ve been to a movie, who knew there are assigned seats now?!  We settled in for the movie after the awkward debacle of sitting in the wrong seats, having people supposed to sit in our seats but just sit next to us, only to have them sitting in someone else’s seats, resulting in all of us having to stand up, me declare, “Oh!  I’m so sorry!  I didn’t know there were assigned seats!”, walk down to the front, look at the tickets, only to discover that our assigned seats were, literally, one seat over from where we’d randomly sat down.

Admittedly, I was nervous.  Nervous because I just didn’t know how the movie was going to portray being gifted.  Fox Searchlight and their publicists had generously donated a few swag bags for us to give away to our readers and listeners (see the details below to enter!), and all we had to do was write about the movie and help promote it.  I was about to find out if the movie we were promoting was going to make me cringe.  And, so, I was nervous.

Before telling you if I cringed or rejoiced, let me clarify that Fox Searchlight and their publicists simply requested a review – the content of it is entirely within my discretion and reflects my own opinions.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the portrayal of giftedness.  Phew!  Watching the little girl in the movie, I was reminded of so many gifted kiddos I live with and work with. 

They captured asynchrony: one moment Mary (the girl, played by McKenna Grace) was engaging in philosophical debate and advanced mathematics, and the next she was watching Spongebob, stacking little kid blocks, have intense emotional outbursts. 

They captured the complicated social lives of gifted kids:  Mary’s best friend is an adult woman. 

They captured the intense sense of justice:  Mary defends a schoolmate who was picked on and has a heart for a one-eyed cat. 

They captured the language and discourse between gifted child and parent:  In the opening scene Mary strongly attempts to negotiate staying home from school and the discourse is filled with words such as monocular and ad nauseam. 

They captured intensities:  Mary would be climbing and crashing and moving and impulsively talking; she had big emotions, big questions, big creativity, big humor.

But, it did miss the mark in a couple of ways:  Not all gifted kids are prodigies.  When Hollywood continues to portray gifted kids as prodigies, it simply reinforces imposter syndrome and a black and white approach to a topic that is really quite gray. 

Also – it would be nice to see a gifted movie in which the child’s gifts are not mathematical.  I know, it’s shocking, but people can be gifted in other academic areas, too!  And even more shocking, people can be gifted in things that have absolutely nothing to do with academics, or gifted in academics but be “poor” performers! 

I slightly loathe how education becomes the focus whenever the topic of gifted children arises.  Yes, meeting their educational needs is important, but gifted kids are so much more than education and bright minds.  When we continue to correlate giftedness to high academic performance, we continue to overlook a large segment of the gifted population who ends up struggling and failing and being labeled the trouble maker time and time again.  And, while we’re on the topic of education – not such a fan of how homeschooling was dismissed, once again due to the “Socialization” concerns, when it actually has been the best, most viable, learning option and environment for many gifted kids.

All that said, and good acting and cinematography aside, I left kinda loving this movie, for one – no, two – simple reasons.  First, I saw my experiences as a parent to my gifted children reflected on the screen.  I related to the joy, the turmoil, the self-doubt, the pressure of wanting to do right by these amazing souls and minds we’ve been gifted.  And second, Cub’s first review was, “That was AWESOME!  I saw myself in her and KBear and Chimp.  Finally!  A movie with gifted kids like us!”  Any movie that helps my kid feel seen and understood gets 2 thumbs up from me.

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