Chris Evans plays the struggling yet devoted uncle of a young, mathematically gifted girl who comes into conflict with the girl’s estranged grandmother over her schooling.
At first glance, this has Hallmark melodrama written all over it and I’m sure many people will be put off by the synopsis.
But if you’re in two minds as to whether to give this a try or not, I’d encourage you to give it a chance because it is actually handled very well, and is a delightful story of family ties, conflict, duty and love, without being at all schmaltzy.
The casting is key. Small children can often be really, and I mean really, annoying in films, but McKenna Grace is just perfect. She has the right amount of sass combined with the vulnerability of a young child who’s experiencing huge emotional stress, and her interactions with her uncle Chris Evans are just great. And I’m a huge admirer of Chris Evans as an actor. Seeing him playing a role such as Captain America/Steve Rogers, it’s so easy to overlook the fact that he is, actually, a good actor. You become more aware of this when you see him doing something else, and then realise how it’s not easy to play the perfect hero – I think the fact that he inhabits Steve Rogers so well in the MCU means that audiences miss just how good he is in other things – such as this. And Octavia Spencer’s character is one person you would not want to get on the wrong side of – a raised eyebrow is all it takes to convey ‘don’t you even think about it’ when defending her nearest and dearest.
I’ll concede a slightly convenient device in the final act which aided the denouement, but aside from this, the director Marc Webb balances the courtroom and personal dramas very well, without getting bogged down in either too much. It’s probably best described as a ‘quiet’ film, if that makes sense.
Please give it a try!