X + Y

Morgan Matthews
Release Year:
James Graham
Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan
Screening Date:
  • 3 May 2016
  • Categories:
    Drama, Romance

    Film Notes

    Also known as A Brilliant Young Mind, this is a film about a socially awkward teenage math prodigy who finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad. In a world difficult to comprehend, Nathan struggles to connect with those around him - most of all his loving mother - but finds comfort in numbers. When Nathan is taken under the wing of unconventional and anarchic teacher, Mr. Humphreys, the pair forge an unusual friendship and Nathan's talents win him a place on the UK team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. From suburban England to bustling Taipei and back again, Nathan builds complex relationships as he is confronted by the irrational nature of love.


    What you thought about X + Y

    Film Responses

    Excellent Good Average Poor Very Poor
    44 (63%) 22 (31%) 2 (3%) 2 (3%) 0 (0%)
    Total Number of Responses: 70
    Film Score (0-5): 4.54

    Collated Response Comments

    There was an overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response to Morgan Matthews’ translation of his earlier documentary into a feature film, as the figures show. This “delicate and cleverly exploratory film” grounded in “intelligence, understanding and a deft and subtle insight into family relationships” communicated “directly and effectively the tangled complexity of young Nathan’s perspective on the world” without “any false romanticising of the notion of a mathematical genius” and with “a powerful honesty”. Several responses commented on “the wide range of emotions in the film: humour, sadness, pain, frustration” and the “sensitive camera work” which communicated them so well. This was, as an area of praise, matched by “the moving quality of Nathan’s growing development, understanding and confidence”, without, as another response added “any false notes”. The “down-to-earth directness” of the complex world in which “the gifted but autistic Nathan moves” was also admired and “central to the film’s impact”. But what struck the greatest number who enjoyed “this exceptional film” was the “range of superb acting performances – particularly Nathan, both as a small boy and an adolescent, his mother (Sally Hawkins) and his teacher (Rafe Spall). The “discipline and concentration of the central performances” enabled the film to work “without falseness or sentimentality – making it truly heart-rending”. One member found Julie, the mother, “so real, so lonely, so full of love – the real star of the show”. Several others, along with enjoyment, felt they had “a much greater understanding of autism” by the end of the film. The mathematical theme at the heart of the piece was also praised: “a film with a real mathematical problem and a real mathematical proof”. One member summed up what was felt by all those who enjoyed the film unreservedly: “a moving story, beautifully told, with restrained and powerful emotions, expressed with honesty and integrity.” There were, however, reservations in the responses. One member wondered if the film “bit off a bit more than it could chew – genius, bereavement, autism, disability”. Another felt that the film “compromised its integrity in providing a ‘happy ending’ for the audience, which did not ring true”. This idea, of an over-simple conclusion to the complexity of the film itself, struck several members. “Too nice an ending” wrote one in the audience, wondering whether “Nathan’s change into feeling and relationships was convincing and plausible.” One response, while grading the film ‘excellent’, still pondered whether Nathan could “suddenly respond to physical contact”. Nevertheless, there was no doubt about the overall audience response: an excellent film and a very fitting end to the season.

    We have placed cookies on your computer to help make this website better. For more information please click here

    By continuing to use this site or closing this panel, we'll assume you're OK to continue. You can view our full privacy policy here