A Brilliant Young Mind is a film by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Morgan Matthews and was inspired by his similarly titled documentary, Beautiful Young Minds. The movie stars Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Alex Lawther, Martin McCann, and Alexa Davies.
Nathan Ellis is a budding math prodigy who has had trouble adapting to the outside world after the tragic death of his father. After Mr. Humphreys, one of Nathan's teachers, takes him under his wing and begins teaching the boy the skills necessary to qualify for the International Mathematics Olympiad. This journey will take him to foreign places where he will meet new people and be forced to interact and engage with his peers and fellow students. Finding a place where being weird simply makes him average puts the world in an entirely different light and inspires him to think and imagine in ways he never thought possible or dared to understand.
Sometimes you sit down to watch a movie and figure you can mostly pay attention while getting other things done. This is certainly not one of those films. From the very beginning, I was glued to the screen and taking in this wonderful story written by James Graham and brought to the screen by Morgan Matthews. You can tell this is an important topic for the creative team to get right and they do so on every level. In the story, Nathan is diagnosed with autism at an early age and his struggles in dealing with other people are very real compared to what is experienced in real life. The material is treated with great respect and you can tell that great lengths were taken to get everything right.
A role like this would be tough for any actor and Asa Butterfield takes on the challenge beautifully showing why he is a very promising talent in the acting world. His performance is somewhat limited by the social anxieties and ineptness displayed by his character but this actually allows the young actor to really get inside the head of the character he is playing which really strengthens his interactions with the rest of the cast. Sally Hawkins is especially good as Nathan's mother and provides more proof as to why she is an Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning actress. I also really enjoyed the performance by newcomer Jo Yang who plays Zhang Mei, a Chinese math student and fellow competitor who is partnered up with Nathan during their training.
A Brilliant Young Mind is a very entertaining movie and I also feel like it's a very important film to watch as it helps us to understand how someone with autism really sees the world. If you are in the Seattle area, you can check this movie out at the SIFF Cinema at the Uptown beginning on Friday, October 9th.