Gifted is a rich gem of a movie with so many interesting angles I hardly know where to start. Mary is a math prodigy who lives with her uncle, Frank. She never knew her father and her mother died when she was a baby. Her grandmother, Evelyn, was never in her life, until she hears that Mary has her mother’s gift for mathematics. When Evelyn shows up, wanting to take custody of Mary, things get complicated. What is really best for Mary? Is it to be in an environment where she can be mathematically challenged, or is it better for her to have a “normal” childhood as a “normal” kid? And where does love play into it? It’s a thought provoking movie about parenting. It’s also a movie about what it is to be human and loved and accepted that has something to say to all of us, “gifted” or not.
Ultimately, the discussion about Mary’s best interests really come down to an issue of performance vs. love. Evelyn doesn’t understand love, she only understands performance. She only understands being admired by the world for accomplishments. Frank, however, has an entirely different perspective. He knows what it’s like to grow up with that kind of pressure. He felt it himself, and he saw the toll it took on his sister, Mary’s mom (also a math prodigy). He wants Mary to know that she is loved because of who she is, not because of what she does.
It may seem obvious but it’s a good question, though. If we have some talent or gift, is it negligence (as Evelyn called it) not to develop that gift to its full potential? Do we owe our gifts and talents to the world? I’m not sure that we don’t. However, that isn’t what gives us our worth. We offer those gifts to the Lord (and to the world) as an offering of love, not as a payment for love. It comes from a place of love, not as an act to earn love. Frank wanted Mary to be loved, first, so that all she did came from a place of love, not a need to perform.