X + Y

The director of X + Y previously made a documentary about the British team that contested the 2006 Internationalx+Y_poster Mathematical Olympiad. The silver medallist was Daniel Lightfoot, who has Asperger’s and who provided a model for the character Nathan in X + Y. y Daniel describes his ordeals with school teachers who didn’t accept that he knew better or thought he was cheating here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/daniel-lightwing-/xy-film-daniel-lightwing_b_6845324.html

Nathan is the third English genius-with-issues on our screen this year, preceded by Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything and Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. It is difficult for cinema to convey the rarefied intellectual world of such people; maths for them has a meaningfulness and beauty most of us cannot share. But perhaps cinema turns too quickly and gratefully to the realm of the emotions with the usual familiar roller coaster of crises and improbably dramatic resolutions.

Still, the film provides insights into the ordeal of young people with Asperger’s and their families. The visit to Taipei was interesting. Nathan’s oddness was less conspicuous in a different cultural setting and for the Chinese being ‘gifted’ is not something to apologise for.

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