Freeview film of the day: Saturday 9 September – X+Y
Asa Butterfield plays the young, gifted and autistic teen finding chess helps him get a handle on life in this sensitively handled feelgood drama
Our understanding of autism has increased exponentially thanks to a flurry of fiction, drama and documentary, from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close to The A Word and Life, Animated. Playwright James Graham and director Morgan Matthews were inspired by the latter’s 2007 documentary Beautiful Young Minds, which followed a UK team to the International Mathematical Olympiad in Slovenia. They created this fictional account of a boy — loosely based on real-life participant Daniel Lightwing, played here as a nine-year-old by Edward Baker-Close and as a young man by Asa Butterfield — who is similarly thrust into bamboozling international competition. Rafe Spall is the teacher who enters him, Sally Hawkins his protective mum and Jo Yang his Chinese counterpart, whose friendship throws up further complications. It’s a precise sum of its parts, with a cast that’s uniformly bright and breezy, and issues that are dealt with sensitively. And if it’s geared toward a feel-good ending, why the heck not?
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