“You’re gonna meet kids today you can borrow money from for the rest of your life,” said a guy to a cute little girl while she boarded into the school bus.
The story is about seven-year-old Mary (Mckenna Grace), who lives with her maternal uncle Frank (Chris Evans). Bonnie (Jenny Slate), the little girl’s class teacher, is fascinated and concerned by her extraordinary mathematical talent. Normal studies bore Mary, as she far surpasses her age group. Not only is she extremely talented, but also mature and sassy.
As soon as Bonnie discovered Mary’s special ability, she approached Frank to discuss it. Frank initially denied that his niece was gifted, but eventually Bonnie found out that Mary was the daughter of a famous mathematician who died young. It was hard to overlook her talent, so the school authority suggested Frank get Mary admitted into a school for gifted people. The principal also assured Frank they would arrange a scholarship so money wouldn’t be an issue.
Frank stubbornly refused to recognize Mary’s ability and gift. No one could convince him to let her attend a regular school with other children her age and lead a normal life.
Meanwhile, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), Mary’s grandmother, came to visit her and get a sense of her talent. Evelyn was a scientist too, like Mary’s mother. She was ambitious and strict. She wanted to take custody of Mary and send her to an advanced school. Evelyn’s ambitions for Mary made her completely blind to the fact that seven-year-old Mary needed time to enjoy childhood too. In contrast, Frank wanted Mary to play like any other normal kid and grow up as a good person.
The truth of Mary’s childhood was unveiled like this.
One day, Mary’s mom came to visit her brother Frank with little Mary. She wanted to talk to him, but as Frank was going on a date he asked her to stay at his place. On returning home, Frank found that his sister had committed suicide and left little Mary on the couch. The guilt of not being there for his sister when she needed him haunted him ever since.
Mary’s mom was working on a research paper when she died, crushed under the weight of Evelyn’s expectations and ambitions. She got pregnant at a young age with Mary, but Mary’s father abandoned them. After much struggle, she eventually gave up on life. In her last days, not even Evelyn was there to support or comfort her. So when Frank learned about Mary’s genius he didn’t want it to ruin his niece’s life; he and Evelyn ended up in court fighting over Mary’s custody. After an unsatisfactory outcome for both parties, they agreed that a couple in the neighborhood would adopt Mary.
Soon, Frank realized Evelyn was trying to maneuver her granddaughter. He then showed his mom the research work Mary had finished before she died – something Evelyn wanted of her daughter. Finally, Evelyn realized her mistake and gave up on Mary.
The story ends with Mary attending an advanced school, mingling with adults during class and playing with kids her age during break time. The movie beautifully portrays the affection and friendship between an uncle and niece. It’s a straightforward film.
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