A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
ActorsStarring: Asa Butterfield, Alexandra Davies, Eddie Marsan, Martin McCann, Orion Lee, Paul J. Dove, Percelle Ascott, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Jo Yang
Morgan Matthews’ low budget film follows a teenage boy, Nathan Ellis, who is autistic but has considerable talent for mathematics.
The film follows the difficult relationship with his parents, who struggle with his lack of social skills, and a maths teacher who takes him under his wing. The teacher, played by Rafe Spall (Prometheus, Shaun of the Dead) was himself a maths prodigy but health difficulties and an inability to cope with this have left him eking out a living as a rather disillusioned secondary school teacher. He bonds with Nathan and coaches the teenager to the stage where he competes for a place in the UK team in the international mathematics olympiad. The training camp for this, in Taiwan, proves a challenge for Nathan as he has to deal with an unfamiliar world completely outside out his regular routine. He also has to deal with his counterpart in the Chinese maths team, a teenage girl who takes a shine to him.
The film deals with the subject matter sensitively, and Rafe Spall’s character proves welcome humour and depth to what might otherwise be a merely quirky or worthy project. The script nicely captures the boy’s need for routine and his difficulty in expressing emotions, and the actors all do their jobs well in bringing this story to life. The director wisely does not dwell too much on trying to explain any of the mathematics but focuses on the relationships between the characters, including those between the socially awkward maths squad as they fight it out for the coveted places on the UK team.
This is a surprisingly engaging little film, which probably cost about 1% of an X Men blockbuster but is more worthy of your time.