Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

At the core of this tender-hearted and moving British indie film is a fascinating relationship between a single mum, Julie (played by the superb Sally Hawkins), and her autistic teenage son, Nathan – played with equal smarts and insight by the young actor Asa Butterfield.

Director Morgan Matthews developed the film on the back of his 2007 doc about a teen maths prodigy on the spectrum. Here, that translates into the story of Nathan, a smart kid who travels to Taiwan to take part in a maths competition with other smart youngsters from around the world. But it’s the changing mother-and-son relationship back in England that really hits home – and it’s here that Hawkins (playing a very different mother from her recent endearing turn in ‘Paddington’) again proves herself one of our country’s most sensitive, thoughtful actresses.

As filmmaking, ‘X+Y’ is unassuming and not entirely remarkable, but the relationships play so sweetly and memorably: Nathan and Julie; Nathan and his mentor Martin (Rafe Spall); and Martin and Julie, as awkward as each other as they tentatively strike up a romance. It’s that awkwardness – that sense of people clumsily stumbling through life just trying to be happy and good – that makes ‘X+Y’ a little gem.


Release details

Release date:
Friday March 13 2015
111 mins

Cast and crew

Morgan Matthews
James Graham
Asa Butterfield
Rafe Spall
Sally Hawkins

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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1 of 1 found helpful

Surprise package of the cinematic year so far for me, this comedy drama is a little gem. It`s superbly written, acted and soundtracked, has a very good heart and boasts equally affecting moments of humour, pathos and tenderness. Highly recommended.


This is a wonderful film, the kind of film that draws you in from the the first opening to the very end. You understand both the mother's difficulties and the child's as they deal with the his socially awkward personality as he battles with his brilliant mind and his Autism and the loss of his father. 

Not only is the story about Nathan, the son, amazingly acted by Asa Butterfield, but also about the mother played by Sally Hawkins, who does 'real people' so effortlessly. As you go on his journey to Taiwan, he won a place on the International Mathematics Olympiad, you see his stuggles as he tried to mix with the other children, his first steps into love as he befriends a girl and how his mother slowly tries to connect with him and find a way to bond and talk to her child. 

A beautiful, sweet and gentle tale, which I truly enjoyed. 

Charming, funny, moving and sad in equal measure. I hope it can gain some word of mouth momentum in the cinemas. Tears were rolling into my popcorn by the end but it's ultimately a feel good film.