English documentarian Morgan Matthews’ film on autism is all set for the UK release on Friday. The movie X+Y delves into the life of a gifted teenager, Nathan, who suffers from traits of autism or more specifically Asperger’s Syndrome.
The movie is based on a 2007 BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds directed by Matthew himself. Daniel Lightwing, a UK-based genius, is said to be the inspiration behind both the documentary and the film. Daniel was detected with Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum, quite early and that explained his awkward social behavior at school. However, as Matthew puts it, Daniel’s ‘superpower’ helped him to overcome his difficulties and he went on to become the silver-medal winner at International Mathematics Olympiad in 2006. He has now been working with the company Greenland as an IT and marketing manager.
The film narrates the success story of Daniel through the character Nathan. X+Y depicts Nathan’s struggle to overcome his disorder and childhood trauma of losing his father by making best use of his talent. He, with efforts from his tutor and mother, lands himself among the six students to represent UK at the International Mathematics Olympiad. In this journey, he falls in love with a Chinese girl.
The main characters of the film have been portrayed by Asa Butterfield as Nathan, Sally Hawkins as Julie and Rafe Spall as Mr. Humphreys. Asa Butterfield, known for his characters in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Hugo, met Daniel to study the body language and mannerism of the prodigy.
The film was screened at Toronto Film Festival and at London’s Leicester Square for its European première in 2014. A few days ago, the film was also screened at Daniel’s home city. The movie has been received warmly by everyone.
David Lightwing, Daniel’s father, said after the screening, “For Asa, this was quite a departure because it is a more subtle performance. From what we have seen he has Daniel to a tee. The difficulties a child with Asperger’s syndrome has in understanding facial expressions, Daniel talks quite openly about that now, when I see Asa acting as Nathan he has really done well. He has captured his idiosyncrasies.”