Based on the bestselling novel by Myla Goldberg. Eleven-year-old Eliza (Cross), an average kid who lacks attention from her bright but aptly troubled parents, finds she's got a gift for spelling. Dad Saul (Gere), a religious studies professor and follower of Kabbalah mysticism, is at a loss as scientist wife Miriam (Binoche) teeters on the edge of instability. Meanwhile Eliza has fantastical visions of the words she is to spell as she wins local spelling bees and heads toward the national competition in Washington, D.C. Dad becomes obsessed with Eliza's gift, ignoring Miriam and their other child, Aaron (Minghella). Viewers who didn't read the book may be set adrift in this somewhat pretentious, but earnest film.