58th BFI London Film Festival 2014: X+Y
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Very few movies manage to rip all emotion out of a room and only leave behind tears – but X+Y is one that successfully achieved this.
X+Y is the compelling story of Nathan (played by Asa Butterfield) who is a teenage maths prodigy with mild autism. Living alone with his mother (Sally Hawkins) following his fathers tragic death (the only man he felt he could truly relate to), his only comfort is in numbers. After he becomes bored at Primary School, his mother employs the help of Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall) – a maths tutor with low self-esteem and MS – who takes him forth to the pinnacle of the International Mathematical Olympiad which takes him to Taipei where Nathan finds his Y.
As strange a storyline as it sounds, X+Y is one of the most genuinely heart-felt, real stories that one could possibly find at this years Film Festival. Based on BAFTA winning documentarian Matthew Morgan’s doc, “Beautiful Young Minds” – Matthews continues the realism and has kept relatability on a high.
A stand-out performance by young Asa Butterfield as Nathan really catches the audience’s attention almost instantly by combining an un-challengeable knowledge of autism (although Butterfield doesn’t have autism himself) with his own experiences of the troubles of being a teenager. That alongside a heartbreaking dynamic between Nathan and his mother, it truly presents the challenges of caring for a child with disabilities.
Rafe Spall’s performance as Mr. Humphrey’s is equally fantastic, with the funny man creating some comic relief in – what would otherwise be – a dark film. This being true for all performances, there are no drop in character… it seems that Matthews’ experience in creating documentaries comes in handy.
One of the best films showing at this year’s London Film Festival by far – make sure you catch X+Y either at the festival or when it comes out next March. You’ll be left incomplete without it.