VOD film review: X + Y
Ivan Radford | On 13, Jul 2015
Director: Morgan Matthews
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Rafe Spall
Watch X + Y online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
How do you define love mathematically? It’s a challenge that’s almost as impossible as discovering the formula for a brilliant film. The charming X+Y manages to do both.
Start with a young teenage boy on the autism spectrum (Nathan), raised by his mum (Julie), plus the International Mathematical Olympiad, a globe-trotting competition Nathan would be very good at, and an equally anti-social teacher (Martin), who has a habit of getting high.
Factor in a rude rival (Jakes Davies’ tragic Luke), a love interest (Zhang Mei) and a potential teacher-parent romance and the result reads like a pile of coming-of-age cliches.
Then, subtract any cheesy awkwardness and divide the risk of mawkishness between a cast of fantastic actors: Asa Butterfield is a huge positive as the young maths genius; Rafe Spall and Eddie Marsan double the total laughs with their abrasive and likeable presence. Combine this with Sally Hawkins as Nathan’s earnest, shut-out mother, who counts her son’s prawn balls at the local Chinese takeaway with arithmetic precision.
Multiply all that by Morgan Matthews’ gentle direction and square it with the script’s calculatedly unconventional sports movie structure. Triple the emotional impact with a heart-breaking monologue from the scene-stealing Spall, minus any easy happy ending for him and Julie, and factor in a final speech from Hawkins, who lands upon a poetic way to define affection as a variable. The sum effect is exponentially adorable; a moving, sincere study of maternal love that feels like it has real value. Add this film to your life and it will increase your happiness. Deduct it and you will be infinitely missing out on a quantifiable gem.
X+Y is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.