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X+Y

X+Y

Released 13 March 2015
Director Morgan Matthews
Starring


Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Martin McCann
Writer(s) James Graham
Producer(s)

Laura Hastings-Smith, David M. Thompson
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 112 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama
Rating 12A
68

Summing up.

So much of how an audience resonds to a film has to do with how they empathise and bond emotionally with the central character. When that central character has autism, they bring with them an unusual challenge – how can the audience get close to a character who holds everyone at an arm’s length? X+Y tackles this problem with depth and sensitivity by attempting to bring us inside the complicated mind of a gifted and unusual child.

Asa Butterfield plays Nathan, a teenager who lives alone with his mother, having lost his father in a tragic accident when he was younger. Nathan has been diagnosed with autism and finds social interaction extremely difficult, even with his loving but frustrated mother Julie, played by Sally Hawkins. Nathan is a maths prodigy and is taken under the wing of local teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall) to train for the International Mathematics Olympiad. As Nathan is forced out of his comfort zone, he begins to open up and finally deal with how own grief.

As a film that attempts to get inside the mind of a very unique boy, X+Y is quite effective. Director Morgan Matthews uses lens flares and repeated patterns to attempt to give us an eye-view into how Nathan sees the world – a tactic that leads to some hazily beautiful scenes. The cast are all excellent, with Butterfield rising to the challenge of bringing a very emotionally complicated character to life. What is perhaps most interesting though, is the relationship between Julie and Humphreys, two lonely people dancing nervously around one another, desperate to make a connection.

Although the cast should be praised for their performances, the film does have its faults; with a somewhat predictable narrative arc and a tendency towards being a little well-behaved, X+Y is not the most memorable film you will see this year. That said, the film cannot be faulted for its intentions and overall is a rather touching and sweet affair.

- Linda O'Brien