In cinemas March 13th!
This wonderful film follows teenage maths prodigy Nathan (Asa Butterfield) as he develops his talents, winning himself a place on the UK National team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Nathan, who is autistic, struggles to connect with other people, especially his mother Juile (Sally Hawkings), and instead seeks comfort in numbers. Taken under the wing of unconventional and self destructive teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall), the two of them form a bond that has a positive impact on both their lives. Together they secure him a place on the IMO team and Nathan travels with the them to a training camp in Taiwan, under the supervision of squad leader Richard (Eddie Marsan).
The busy and chaotic atmosphere of the city is beautifully translated onto film with Nathan at first struggling to adjust to the unfamiliar challenges and surroundings, but eventually finding order and serenity from the rhythms of a changing traffic light in a sequence of cinematic brilliance. It is an in depth look at things through the eyes of someone who is autistic, and the way in which they see the world. Finding beauty in places where others would never think to look. When Nathan begins to experience feelings for his Chinese counterpart Zhang Mei (Jo Yang), who relates to him through the mathematics, his world is thrown into inner turmoil which leads the film towards a very touching and heartfelt conclusion. Can there be an equation for love?
Asa Butterfield delivers an utterly stunning performance as Nathan and manages to connect you to him through very minimal dialogue, he makes you understand him. Director Morgan Matthews has succeeded in getting you to see the world through Nathan’s eyes and to make perfect sense of the way in which he views it. It is really a film about connection between people and the intricate difficulties that this can include.
Rafe Spall is just sensational as Mr. Humphreys and watching his private battle with illness would be heart wrenching if it weren’t for the purpose that teaching Nathan gives his life. He and Sally Hawkings are very well paired in their scenes and they are both emotive and well performed. Hawkings is perfect as the loving mother, desperate to have a relationship with her child but unable to reach him in an intellectual capacity and so feeling redundant. Her conversation in the cafe with Nathan at the end is one of the best moments of the whole film as the pair of them deliver what can only be described as a masterpiece of a scene.
The film is inspired by the true story of Daniel, who is the subject of Matthews’s earlier documentary ‘Beautiful Young Minds’ which was critically acclaimed and then went on to be nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Single Documentary.
Review by Lydia Kay.
You can also watch our interview with actor Asa Butterfiled and director Morgan Matthew's here.
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