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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story


Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009) is a biopic of African American neurosurgeon, Ben Carson (b. 1951). The movie was adapted from an autobiography written by Ben Carson with Cecil Murphey and published in 1990.

Gifted Hands begins in 1987 when Dr Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) travels to German to meet a couple whose twins are conjoined at the back of their heads.

The film then goes back to 1961 and we find out that 11-year-old Ben (Gus Hoffman) and his older brother Curtis (Tajh Bellow) are living with their single mother, Sonya (Kimberly Elise), in a mostly white neighbourhood and the boys are not doing well at school.

We also find out that Sonya was in the foster care system until she was 13, which is when she married the boys’ father.

Sonya, who is illiterate but doesn’t want that for her sons or for them to even know she is illiterate, devises ways to encourage the boys to read. It’s not long before Ben, who was failing, is top of his class.

For a period, Ben and Curtis are looked after by a member of Sonya’s church community as she is institutionalised because she is suffering from depression.

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