Directed by Morgan Matthews.
Starring Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, and Jo Yang.
A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
An autistic boy is in a fatal car accident which results in the death of his father who was extremely attentive and good to him; he is discovered to have a talent for mathematics and is taught by a teacher who suffers from multiple sclerosis. A disconnect exists between the son and mother but not from a lacking of trying on her part as she is desperate to establish an emotional bond with her socially awkward child.
At the centre of the story is the International Mathematics Olympiad where the high school student attempts to be one of the six participants which will represent the UK. As a training session the potential candidates are taken to China where they are paired with members of the Chinese team as part of a training session and cultural exchange. The protagonist develops a friendship with his Chinese counterpart which has a dramatic impact upon his life.
Not to cheapen the accomplishments of filmmaker Morgan Matthews (The Fallen) and James Graham (Caught in a Trap) who wrote the screenplay but X+Y can be best described as the young adult version of A Beautiful Mind (2001); both dramas are innovative and sensitive in depicting the mental condition that cripples the main character. The production design makes use of symmetrical images, and the cinematography is able to convey a heighten sense of colours.
With the exception of the member of the UK team coming across as the darker version of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, the acting performances are solid from Sally Hawkings (Made in Dagenham) who dramatically and sincerely plays the mother, Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) and Eddie Marsan (The Illusionist) provide a sense of humour to the proceedings, Jo Yang is endearing in her befriending of the emotionally removed character of Nathan, and Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) is able to convey a sense of bewilderment. A great scene occurs when mother and child are in a restaurant and she uses math as a metaphor. X+Y is a tearjerker which sets moviegoers on a cinematic journey which is cathartic and life-affirming.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★/ Movie: ★★★★