A Brilliant Young Mind (formerly known as 'X + Y')

"At the core of this tender-hearted and moving British indie film is a fascinating relationship between a single mum and her autistic teenage son." Time Out

“A teenage math prodigy on the autistic spectrum (Asa Butterfield) learns to cope with change, intimacy and high-pressure competition at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in the deeply affecting, sensitively handled British drama 'A Brilliant Young Mind'. Although a work of fiction, this first feature for documentarian Morgan Matthews is loosely inspired by real-life characters met in the director's earlier doc.

“However, the movie works up a much deeper backstory for Nathan and his family, which substantially changes the emphasis and tone from Matthews' doc.  Via the subplot about Nathan's mother, Julie (Sally Hawkins, luminously alive in every frame), it offers a spot-on portrait of the challenges of raising an autistic child.

“The first act is especially moving as it tracks how the precocious but poker-faced Nathan, is first coaxed into an interest in numbers by his father, who has an intuitive rapport with his son that his wife struggles to match. When Michael is killed in a car accident, Julie tries her best to parent Nathan alone, but it's obviously hard raising a child who won't let you touch him, who insists on being served only a prime number of shrimp balls, and who constantly reminds you that you're not as smart as he is.

“Julie and Nathan find a father-substitute of sorts in Martin Humphreys, a math tutor. Martin was once a math prodigy himself, but multiple sclerosis and other psychological demons have swerved him away from the career he was expecting. His coaching gets Nathan into the IMO precompetition, which sends Nathan to Taiwan under the care of genially bumptious coach Richard.

“In the end, Matthews' affinity for the subject and empathy for his characters pays rich dividends, while his documentary background shines through in his and DP Danny Cohen's eye for striking visual details, especially in the Taiwanese locations.” - Hollywood Reporter


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