As a Brit herself, Jen had been pushing me to watch this “great British movie about autism” for ages. I have to confess, I often fall asleep watching a movie at night. Not much I can do about it, I’m not an evening person and after a busy day at work and looking after my little people I might start a movie but rarely finish it.
Not the case though when I watched X + Y! For nearly 2 hours I was glued to the screen. I laughed, I cried, I was in shock and now, after a couple of days, I’m still thinking about it.
So what is it all about? Without revealing too much, X + Y is a 2014, British movie about Nathan, who is diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise. In a world difficult to comprehend, he struggles to connect with those around him- most of all his mother. He prefers patterns and maths becomes his main focus. When Nathan is taken under the wing of Mr. Humphreys, an unconventional teacher to say the least, the pair forge an unusual friendship and Nathan’s talents win him a place on the UK team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. This takes Nathan from suburban England to Taipei and back again, turning his life upside down, especially when he is then also confronted by the irrational nature of love.
That’s the story in a nutshell. Now, some critics might say that this is yet another movie portraying a person with autism as genius, as if all people with autism have savant abilities. But in the company of the other contenders [with and without autism] for the Olympiad team, Nathan is “average” to quote one of his female team members.
What I love about this movie is that it brings you very close to feeling what Nathan is feeling. How he doesn’t like to be touched, how he finds it difficult to deal with change and how he will only eat his favourite Chinese meal- prawn balls- when the number of prawn balls add up to a prime number. His mum, knowing how upset Nathan can get over his food, goes out of her way to get it right. Zhang Mei, the girl Nathan has feelings for, is not aware of this and has her own way of fixing the prawn ball issue. It’s my favourite part of the movie.
Although the most emphasised, Nathan’s is not the only struggle. The other main characters have their own issues and are all beautifully portrayed by great actors.
So, be quick, SBS on Demand is showing X + Y for another 17 days!