Let me start off with a disclaimer: I am an aspie. A mild aspie, but an aspie nonetheless. I can get very upset at times, at other times I can become very nervous, and am anxious a lot of the time. I write and I act for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that through those films I can express the things I otherwise can't bring myself to. I suppose that's why I'm writing this. The average perception of those on the spectrum is as follows: Weird, odd, sad, different. We're seen as someone to pity or someone who's an easy target for a joke. The media doesn't do us many favours either, with films tending to all stick to common stereotypes without every really looking underneath. At least, that's how it feels. X+Y is a film that looks underneath, and I love it for that. (And yes, I'm aware it took nine lines until I actually started talking about the film, and for that I apologise. I'll try to make up for it) I will admit, this film was sometimes hard to watch for me, and that some scenes hit very close to home. This film doesn't shy away from the truth, nor does it allow itself to be clouded by sentimentality. This film was directed by a documentary filmmaker, and you can tell; the film is involved, up close, personal, and always strives to convey the truth. Basically, this film gets it. I don't think I've felt as strong an emotional connection to a film in a very long time. The characters were beautifully written and performed by the stellar cast, but I feel a special mention has to be given to three of the actors in particular: Asa Butterfield, who portrays Nathan with such grace and skill, and captures the mannerisms and inner struggles of those on the spectrum brilliantly. The character is well written, yes, but I honestly can't imagine any other actor in the role. It is without a doubt the best performance of his career, and if he doesn't win SOMETHING for his role, I will be incredibly disappointed. He turns the character into a real person, a real person who just thinks and acts a little differently to everyone else. A real person who deserves to be treated as anyone else would, and not looked down upon. Words cannot describe how good he is in this film (and I could say the same about the two others to come). Just
wow. A great performance. Sally Hawkins, who portrays Nathan's mother Julie with such warmth, such heart and such believability. Not only does the film focus on Nathan alone, it also focuses on those he cares about, Julie in particular. She's someone who has sacrificed so much, and has had to care for her son on her own. She understands why Nathan doesn't want to hold her hand or talk to her, but understanding doesn't make it any easier for her to deal with, and still feels that she doesn't understand Nathan at all. Sally Hawkins, bravo. Finally, Jake Davies, who plays the character Luke. And honestly, I'm at a loss for words. I cried at most of the moments he was on screen: I cried out of recognition of both my younger self and of those I have met further up the spectrum than myself. I once knew someone just like Luke, and one scene in particular which involves a re-enactment of a famous comedy sketch almost felt like it came from real life. I was never really like Luke, but I've met plenty of people who are, and to see people like him represented in a film is brilliant. People like Luke Shelton exist in every school, and are all treated the same: bullied, and made fun of or belittled. It's not their fault that they insult people; they don't do it deliberately, they just don't understand how people can be offended. They don't read faces or hear speech patterns like the average person does, but that doesn't mean that people like Luke don't feel emotion themselves. They do, they really do. And Jake Davies conveys that brilliantly, and even manages to make us laugh a few times. (I noticed I said "I'm at a loss for words" and yet managed to talk about his performance the most. Go figure.) I forgot I was looking at actors; I just saw real people. (As a side note, I adored every performance in the film, it's just that those three touched me the most).
To the makers of this film: thank you. Just thank you. You have made an aspie who sometimes feels like nobody understands realise that people do understand. This film is just glorious, fantastic and truthful. People, spread the word! All must watch this! Make sure that X+Y doesn't get overshadowed, and make sure you go in knowing as little as possible. Don't watch the trailer like I did, because it gives away far too much.
My favourite film of 2014, and one of my favourites of all time. A masterpiece, plain and simple.
EDIT: Wow. Looked back on this review after a few months and was stunned by the amount of attention it got. Also was sorry to hear that a few people didn't like the film. Ah well. If this review managed to get a few more people to see the film, then that's grand. A few users have said some reviews misled them, and if mine was one of them, well then I'm sorry you were disappointed. Really, I am. It's a shame you didn't like it as much as I did, and it was never my intention to mislead. Basically, the above review still reflects how I felt when I first watched the film. If you didn't like the film, then I'm sorry. I still love X+Y. And if you don't...you don't. OPINIONS! (Cue Seinfeld music and laugh-track as I slide away from my laptop)