Director: Morgan Matthews
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins
Running Time: 111 minutes
Synopsis: A socially awkward teenage math prodigy (Butterfield) finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
It is so rare, these days, for a film to accurately and honestly give representation without pity or bias to a condition like Autism. When film (and television) write-in characters who live with Autism or Asperger’s, they are, nine times out of ten, made to be trivialised or the victim of some form of bullying or attack. Never is an autistic adult – let alone, a child – the protagonist; always the nerdy sidekick, the social outcast. Well, that was until the heavens opened and we were gifted with the monumental beauty that is X + Y.
X + Y is the story of Nathan Ellis (Butterfield) in the wake of his father’s death, his growth into a teenage boy, and facing trials and tribulations with his mother and peers as he is accepted into the British squad of the International Mathematics Olympiad. His travels take him to Taipei, where he befriends Jo Yang (Mei), a fellow IMO competitor, with whom he becomes utterly besotted (and incredibly confused in his affection towards her). On his rise to taking a seat at the final exam at Cambridge University, he is unconventionally tutored by former IMO alumni Humphreys, a foul-mouthed substance abuser suffering from Cerebral Palsy.
There is not one element where this film falls down. Cinematographically, musically, directionally – this is a prime example of what happens when film is made by people who care about their art. This is a piece of cinema that breaks down barriers, and unwaveringly looks into the lives of people living with disabilities and conditions. It does not praise, nor does it shame, but simply observes the ups and downs of life in a setting that too few are knowledgeable of. X + Y gives a voice to a population that has been long overlooked.
X + Y is an endearing, honest, and heart-warming delight, full of bright young talent that you’ll want to see again and again.
[usr=5] X + Y is released in cinemas from 13th March.