From the producers of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, A Brilliant Young Mind emerges as one of the year’s most rewarding discoveries. Inspired by the real-life subjects of his documentary Beautiful Young Minds, first-time feature director Morgan Matthews here turns his talents to fiction filmmaking, with wonderfully affecting results.
For most of us, equations are just a means to an end. But for teenage math prodigy Nathan (Asa Butterfield, Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), they’re a way of life. Diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when he was a little boy, Nathan has always struggled to relate to people, even to his ever-loving mother Julie (Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky). Numbers (especially prime ones) are the only things that make sense to him. But when attentive teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall) takes an interest in Nathan’s talents, doors begin to open. Mr. Humphreys’ unorthodox teaching methods soon help Nathan land a spot on Great Britain’s team at the International Mathematics Olympiad in Taipei, where, under the blustery guidance of squad leader Richard (Eddie Marsan), Nathan and his fellow socially awkward mathletes discover that they might not be as weird as they thought themselves to be
Favouring small, resonant moments over contrived dramatic catharses, Matthews allows the story to build organically to its poignant conclusion. Butterfield is a wonder as Nathan, and the always superb Hawkins is a force of nature as Julie. Warm, sensitive and compelling, A Brilliant Young Mind is about more than connecting numbers — it’s about connecting hearts.