Film Review – X + Y
The core of X+Y is the struggle between love and loss and making sense of the world through experiences, not mathematical equations. A film with so many plot lines, X+Y is more than the simple equation it presents itself.
Inspired by BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, X+Y reveals the journey of young teen Nathan (Asa Butterfield), with autistic tendencies who shows a great interest in mathematics. With the loss of his father, Michael (Martin McCann), both Nathan and his mother Julie (Oscar-nominated Sally Hawkins) struggle to connect with one another, as well as the challenges the life brings.
X+Y offers a compelling insight into the intensive world of the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO); Matthews executes in revealing how aggressive and stressful life as a mathematical prodigy can be.
Matthews’ directorial debut creates a defining element with the emotional depth of the film, fluidly traversing the line between the technicalities of mathematics and the psychological effect on the young people who are competing. Another defining moment is the execution of the portrayal of young mathematicians and their arduous journey to competition.
Butterfield shines in his role as a young autistic, mathematic enthusiast who struggles to connect outside of the world of numbers and patterns, demonstrating his prowess and his already growing successful filmography. Hawkins’ performance as a widow who struggles to connect with her autistic son is deeply profound; her emotional strife is palpable and her budding relationship with Nathan’s tutor Humphreys (Rafe Spall) make for an appealing storyline. Matthews executes the simple chemistry between Julie and Nathan as the audience can’t help but empathise with characters who are have experiences significant hardships in their life.
Bottom line, there is no mathematical equation on how to deal with grief.