Take your tissues!
This story is about a man, Frank (Chris Evans) who is raising his niece, Mary (McKenna Grace), after his sister ended her life, and the custody battle that begins for Mary, waged between Frank and his estranged mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan). Mary is a mathematics prodigy, and while Frank claims his sister would have wanted her child to have a normal life, Evelyn believes Mary needs to have her gifts strongly directed into further specialised study (i.e. taken out of school and sent to university).
I went to see this film for two reasons. Firstly, an uncle raising his deceased sibling’s child is a similar scenario for one of my characters in the new book that I’m writing now, so it was good research. Secondly, having a child who is ASD and clearly a touch gifted in some areas himself (as well as challenged in others), my husband and I have more than once questioned whether mainstream schooling is the best place for him. This kind of story is one that can cut straight to the core of a parent’s fear: will I make or break my child?
I needed tissues, more than once. Yet I would still say that the film could have gone to deeper places to really reach down our throats and pull out our heart. Likewise, it could have taken up to great places of joy, which would have enriched the viewing experience and also made the tough moments that much tougher. There’s some strong acting in here and a notable performance by Lindsay Duncan as the deeply conflicted grandmother who is still trying to reconcile the loss of her daughter and the role she may or may not have played in it.
I left the cinema feeling somewhat flat and for me that isn’t how I want to feel after a film.