X & Y celebrates the brain

X + Y tells the story of Nathan, a peg with square roots with an aptitude for numbers that qualifies him for the UK math squad.
Asa Butterfield as Nathan, a socially awkward teenage maths genius is recruited for the International Maths Olympiad. Courtesy Bath Film Festival
Asa Butterfield as Nathan, a socially awkward teenage maths genius is recruited for the International Maths Olympiad. Courtesy Bath Film Festival

The editor of my high-school newspaper participated in the 1987 International Mathematical Olympiad in Havana. I remember looking at the sample questions he published each month and thinking: “Dude, this isn’t even in my language.” Which is how many brilliant minds feel about the world of social interaction. In The Imitation Game, Alan Turing doesn’t understand jokes; neither does Sheldon, the theoretical physicist on the hit American TV sit-com The Big Bang Theory (The wise-cracking Stephen Hawking is the opposite of this stereotype. YouTube his appearance on The Big Bang Theory for proof. “Mr Hawking, it’s an honour to meet you.” “I know.”)

X + Y tells the story of Nathan, a peg with square roots. “I have lots of things to say,” he says. “I’m just afraid to say them.” But his aptitude with numbers qualifies him for the UK math squad, which takes him to Taiwan, where he meets a girl who loves quadratic equations and isn’t so good with the English language herself. This may all sound, ahem, derivative, but it features a top quality cast; Asa Butterfield (Hugo) plays Nathan, Sally Hawkins his mother and Rafe Spell (Shakespeare in Anonymous) his multiple-sclerosis affected teacher. The film premiered in Toronto in September and played the British Film Institute London Film Festival in October.

• X + Y plays on Tuesday, December 16 at The Beach and on Wednesday, December 17th at 6.15pm at Mall of the Emirates Cinema 8

arts&life@thenational.ae

Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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