In theatres this Friday from director Morgan Matthews, IDP and Samuel Goldwyn Films is the journey of “A Brilliant Young Mind.”
Nathan (Asa Butterfield) is a young man with a true gift of mathematics. Numbers make complete sense to him and learning how they work are a welcome challenge. What Nathan can not seem to grasp is the concept of relationships and the feelings of love to the despair of mom Julie (Sally Hawkins).
Teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall) see the amazing math talent of the young man and brings him to the fold. Working with Nathan, their goal is to become part of the UK National team for the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Heading the team is Richard (Eddie Marsan) as the group head for a training camp in Taiwan. Without anyone to guide him in the ways of large groups, Nathan has caught the attention of Zhang Mei (Jo Yang), a fellow math genius. The young girl is funny, full of emotions and life which captures Nathan’s attention.
Continuing to prepare, the team returns to England bringing their counterpart from Taiwan to Trinity College in Cambridge. Nathan and Zhang Mei’s relationship becomes more comfortable and filled with learning about one another.
As the Olympiad gets closer, Nathan begins to question what it is he really wants and – how he feels about it.
Asa Butterfield brings a unique perspective to this character. The ability to keep Nathan will his emotions in check is brilliantly done and when this character dares to feel, it is beautiful. Butterfield once again proves he is an actor that chooses roles so wisely and each role I’ve seen him do has such depth. His recent film 10,000 SAINTS backs me up as to the talent of this young actor.
Hawkins as Julie is a mother who just wants what any mother wants – to hold her son and occasionally get a hug back. Knowing that he unable does not stop her motherly hope that something inside him will wake up. Hawkins gives intense emotion and being a Mom I just felt so much for her character.
Spall as Humphrey’s understands Nathan’s lackluster of emotion but is more enthralled with his mathematical skills. Working with the young man it is a saving grace for is going on in Humphrey’s life. The relationship with Julie is a twist!
Marsan as Richard only knows one thing – they have to win. Trying to work with Nathan there are moments of frustration but he sees something special in the young man.
Yang as Zhang Mei is a young woman with so much life and a smile that can light up a dark day. Those two things alone confuse Nathan but not enough to stop hanging around her. Although she has problems herself, it’s that curiosity fed by Yang’s character that is just so lovely and endearing.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “A Brilliant Young Mind” three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. I have come to truly enjoy Butterfield’s performances as he continues to choose roles that are so complex. Butterfield really takes this film from the innocence of a condition he can not control to the ability to take a moment to understand something past the numbers and into the heart.
The ensemble cast bring the story to life and I really couldn’t stop watching. It is not just the two kids who have an issue to overcome as the adults do as well. I did realize that it seemed the kids acted more like adults and the adults acted like kids – ah, aging is a wonderful thing isn’t it?
This does have a little feel of the film “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” but only with Nathan’s inability to understand emotion. That is as far as I would compare the two as actually I enjoyed this story for its sincere emotions of the characters.
When looking for a film that has so much to offer this weekend, take a moment to check out “A Brilliant Young Mind.”
In the end – is there a formula for love?