My father died.
I'm sorry, Nathan.
It's not your fault.
I mean, I feel sad for you.
X + Y is a fascinating film about how an autistic boy experiences life and how his environment must deal with him daily. A very sensitive film. They've succeeded in avoiding all the pitfalls so that it wouldn't result in a spectacle full of eccentric traits. The end result is a subtle and tactful sketch of the complicated life Nathan leads. A complex existence in which physical contact is prohibited, affection is unknown and the most logical things seem illogical for someone like Nathan.
Everyday actions result in seemingly impossible tasks because of a compulsive personality disorder. Eating noodles is only possible when the number of pieces is always a prime number for example. Because of the fact that Nathan is also highly intelligent in the field of mathematics, he's regarded even more as a misfit. Until he's selected for the UK team that competes in a mathematical olympiad. He goes to Taipei to attend a training camp. For once he's not the only outsider. He's astonished after realizing that he's not the strange,unworldly weirdo.
I can hear the skeptical critics already, suggesting that this is simply yet another "Rain Man", but without Cruise and Hoffman. Indeed it's about an autistic person who has certain exceptional characteristics. Yet the moral of the film is something completely different. It focuses on the trauma that Nathan has suffered in the past because of a serious traffic accident with his father and the flourishing of this introverted personality.
The most compelling in this film was the colorful mixture of characters. Each of them are gems of performances. First Asa "The boy in the striped pajamas" Butterfield who succeeded in playing the difficult character of Nathan in an admirable way. A brilliant mind without feelings and whose selfishness really irritates. Nathan's mother is played by Sally Hawkins. A role that isn't in the limelight all the time, but nonetheless it isn't an obvious part. Rafe Spall is the brilliant mathematics teacher Martin who suffers from multiple sclerosis. He once was part of a math team, but now he's no more than a suicidal sarcast who wants to make the best out of his life. But the most I enjoyed the group of youngsters. An endearing bunch of diverse characters with particularly Jake Davies who excels as the ever-pedantic Luke. He's a complicated, intelligent boy who always comes up with complicated theories. Eventually he uses this to cover up his lonely, sad life.
The story could be made melodramatic. But despite it tended to become a valley of tears and the mandatory values of perseverance and triumph are present, it's all handled in an honest and tactful manner, so it's not getting too corny. The most impressive pieces dealt with unrequited affection, rediscovered affection and budding affection by an insensitive person. The whole revolves around support, understanding and relationships. Perhaps the presented mathematical problems were way over my head, but the emotional puzzles were obvious. "X + Y" graduated cum laude for me..
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