X + Y (A Brilliant Young Mind)
Summer 2015 Features series
Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 8:00pm
Directed by Morgan Matthews
Screenplay by James Graham
Starring Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, and Sally Hawkins
Rated NR ·
From the producers of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, X + Y emerges as one of the year’s most rewarding discoveries. Inspired by the real-life subjects of his documentary Beautiful Young Minds, first-time feature director Morgan Matthews here turns his talents to fiction filmmaking with wonderfully affecting results.
For most of us, equations are just a means to an end. But for teenage math prodigy Nathan (Asa Butterfield, Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), they are a way of life. Diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when he was a little boy, Nathan has always struggled to relate to people, even to his ever-loving mother, Julie (Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky). Numbers (especially prime ones) are the only things that make sense to him. But when attentive teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall, Life of Pi, One Day) takes an interest in Nathan’s talents, doors begin to open. Mr. Humphreys’ unorthodox teaching methods soon help Nathan land a spot on Great Britain’s team at the International Mathematics Olympiad in Taipei, where, under the blustery guidance of squad leader Richard (Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky), Nathan and his fellow socially awkward mathletes discover that they might not be as weird as they thought themselves to be.
Favouring small, resonant moments over contrived dramatic catharsis, Matthews allows his story to build organically to its poignant conclusion. Butterfield is a wonder as Nathan, and the always superb Hawkins is a force of nature as Julie. Warm, sensitive and compelling, X + Y is about more than connecting numbers—it is about connecting hearts.
“Deeply affecting … Matthews’ affinity for the subject and empathy for his characters pays rich dividends, while his documentary background shines through in his and DP Danny Cohen’s eye for striking visual details.” (Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter)
“At the core of this tender-hearted and moving British indie film is a fascinating relationship between a single mum and her autistic teenage son.” (Dave Calhoun, Time Out)
“An attractively unparochial drama with a bracing interest in excellence.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)