(…) [D]irector Morgan Matthews’ debut fiction feature – inspired by his acclaimed 2007 documentary “Beautiful Young Minds” – proves potent on its own terms as a satisfying, compelling drama (…).
In the world according to “X+Y,” the prodigy is Nathan Ellis, a Yorkshire youngster who, during the film’s early scenes, is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and credibly portrayed by Edward Baker-Close as a skittish introvert who fixates on the fascinating “patterns” of mathematics. Young Nathan manages to forge an affectionate bond with his simpatico father (Martin McCann). But after Dad dies in an auto mishap, the boy is unable, or unwilling, to share a similarly warm connection with Julie (Sally Hawkins), his indefatigably attentive and endlessly patient mom.
Nathan is scarcely more emotionally open with Martin Humphreys (Rafe Spall), a sardonic yet sensitive teacher who once excelled as a math prodigy, and even competed in the IMO, before a toxic mix of self-loathing and multiple sclerosis undermined his ambitions. But Martin is quick to recognize and eager to nurture Nathan’s nascent skills.
Joe Leydon, Variety