Movies have the incredible power to display perspectives in life that the average person might never get to experience. Some lives are just far too complex to understand without a little guidance. In X+Y (alternatively named A brilliant young mind) this is put to the test as viewers are emerged into the life of math genius, Nathan.
Nathan Ellis (played by Asa Butterfield) is a teenage boy from Britain who excels greatly in maths. However, as much of a genius as he is, one thing he struggles to comprehend is emotion. He is autistic, making it harder to understand things without a set pattern like anger, sadness, and even love.
The story follows him as he joins the math olympiad team for the UK and sets off to train in Taipei with other teams of mathletes. The people he meets along the way slowly show him that there is more to life than just numbers and equations.
I found this movie extremely uplifting as it covers subjects which definitely need to be addressed more in media. Firstly, Nathan is a boy born with Autism and Synesthesia among other things. The actor did a phenomenal job with showing how the character feels- or in this case does not feel- in different situations he was put into. Viewers get to see a glimpse at the lifestyle some people with mental disabilities or illnesses have to live with.
This movie not only demonstrated his struggles, but the ones of his single mother who wants only to reconnect with her son who’s never known how to connect. It’s extremely emotional to just watch the tension and struggle both characters face throughout the film.
Another subject they tackle is MS or ‘multiple sclerosis’. Nathan’s mentor, Martin Humphrey spends the film struggling to keep motivation in life as his disease prevents him from moving as swiftly as he might have before. The audience gets to see him learn to accept who he is entirely, rather than shun away the part of him that he feels makes him abnormal.
Finally, we see the cultural differences. Nathan’s love interest, Zhang Mei is hit by a wave of family pressures. In order to upkeep her family honor, she is forced to do things, like math, which don’t make her happy.In the Chinese culture, family lineage is extremely important; to fail yourself is to fail your family. I found this inclusion extremely engaging as I can relate to the pressure of staying successful for your family.
X+Y’s story line and underlining subjects help bring this film so much more meaning and moral. I highly recommend everyone watching this amazing movie, as we all could use a little bit of insight into a new perspective.
By Madeleine Kwan