Posted Oct 28 2015

X+Y - This Movie Quietly Rocks

Dir: Morgan Matthews
Starring Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall, Eddie Marsan

A small but thoughtfully engaging film from doc maker Matthews, debuting in drama here, X + Y boasts yet another impressive performance from Asa Butterfield, this time as a young autistic boy, Nathan, with a Rain Man like capacity for maths.

As his mother (the redoubtable Hawkins) struggles both to reach him following his father’s death, and provide him with as normal a life as possible, young Nathan is busy finding himself in the world in so many ways – from his relationship with his maths teacher Spall, to his desire to compete in the world Mathematics Olympiad, which takes him to Taiwan and starts to open up his closed world.

This is a low key movie based around a solid script from James Graham (itself based on Matthews’ earlier doc Beautiful Young Minds) and some terrific performances. Hawkins and Marsan are as splendid and reliable as ever, Butterfield just keeps emerging, but more than anyone Rafe Spall steals the show as the MS suffering teacher and former maths prodigy, slowly coming to terms with his own life’s second act.

It arguably plays fast and loose with the nature of autism in its denouncement, but overall this is a good story, well told.

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