Morgan Matthews’ feature length debut is the maths-based teen love/loss heart-wrenching tale, X+Y. Featuring a stellar British cast of Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall and the fabulously talented Asa Butterfield as an autistic maths prodigy, the film was inspired by the director’s 2007 documentary Beautiful Young Minds based on the British teams entry into the 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
Autistic teenager Nathan (Butterfield) achieves his dream of competing at the International Mathematics Olympiad when he is selected for the British squad. Trained by former competitor, Martin (Spall), and supported by single mum, Julie (Hawkins), the maths prodigy is thrust into unknown territory of foreign lands, teenager girls and highly competitive math camps in the hope of winning a prestigious IMO medal.
Matthews has delivered a touching portrayal of autism, dealing with difficult subject matter – love, loss and a dab of teenage angst – in honest and, at times, hard-hitting fashion. There’s no sense of beating around the bush: life with autism can be difficult. Whether it’s the nasty kids at training camp or the highly-strung and ultra competitive team leader (Eddie Marsan’s Richard), there’s still a level of ignorance surrounding the condition that X+Y does not hide from. With a sprinkling of humour from the impressive Spall’s MS-suffering maths teacher and a sombre turn from the always reliable Hawkins, the real star of this charming affair is Butterfield. The 17-year-old – who shone in 2013’s underrated Ender’s Game – gives an understated yet deeply thoughtful performance, strengthening his position as one of the UK’s brightest acting talents.