'X + Y' (2014)
Director: Morgan Matthews
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins
Runtime: 1hr 51mins
Synopsis: Nathan Ellis is an incredibly socially awkward and detached youngster whose struggles with an early diagnosis of autism, and an adversity to human relationships, are tempered by a near-genius mathematical ability. Recognition of this gift leads to as close a relationship Nathan is capable of with his personal maths tutor, Mr. Humphreys, culminating in him making the British Mathematics Olympiad team and a life-changing trip to Taiwan.
X + Y was an engrossing film and story, difficult to watch for the most part, quite sad, painfully distressing with delicately placed humour, combined making what was an emotionally exhausting yet rewarding experience. The film's lead, played by Asa Butterfield (main role in Ender's Game, Hugo & The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas), was incredibly impressive and I was constantly taken by his acting talent throughout the entire story, he was thoroughly convincing to the point where it became hard to imagine him any other way outside of the role itself. The anxiety that he managed to create in the viewer in his many forced yet unwanted moments of human interaction was discomforting to say the least.
Among a strong cast in X + Y, I felt that Belfast actor Martin McCann ('71, Killing Bono) as Ellis' room-mate during the Maths Olympiad, and Rafe Spall (Prometheus, Life of Pi) as his tutor, stood out in particular. The path of the film was unusual as well, it began with despair and struggle, but the expected road to emancipation never really materialises in my opinion, perhaps a reminder of real life. Another thing I took from the film was a subtle emphasis by the director where he seemed to infer that telling children with particular categories of autism that they are gifted constantly doesn't necessarily make them feel special, rather, it serves to alienate them further from their peers and merely highlights to them that they are somehow markedly different from others.
I enjoy films for a variety of separate reasons which in my own mind I can categorise quite easily and will watch depending on my mood, X + Y certainly falls into my 'mood-altering' box, something very positive for me, the unfolding story uncomfortably pricking at your feelings, it takes a good story and convincing actors to achieve that and that's what I got here.
I suffer from extreme anxiety, should I watch this on a Sunday night?
I did and I managed to get through the week, but I'd probably avoid doing so if you can.