“A Brilliant Young Mind” is one of those movies that takes a general family drama/coming-of-age story and sets it in a very specific place. Here, it is the world of high school mathletes.
Asa Butterfield (who you might remember as the young star of “Hugo” and “Ender’s Game”) stars as Nathan, an awkward, highly intelligent boy who sits somewhere on the autism spectrum.
He is an enigma to most of the world, including his broken-hearted single mother Julie (Sally Hawkins). The only person who seems to understand Nathan is his math teacher Martin (Rafe Spall, who is sort of a bearded, British version of Ryan Reynolds).
Martin was a former competitor in the International Mathematics Olympiad who went on to amount to very little after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
With a singular focus and drive, Nathan is determined to be a math Olympian, but when he is selected to try out for the team at a two-week camp in Taiwan, he finds kindred spirits in the quirky group of mathematics enthusiasts and thus learns more about himself and life in general than he ever had before.
Yes, this movie is as sugary sweet as it sounds, but director Morgan Matthews (a feature debut for this documentary filmmaker) uses his documentarian eye and does a good job of showing us the world through the eyes of a remarkable young man.
“A Brilliant Young Mind” is light as a feather and not particularly insightful or revelatory. Although I did learn the British refer to the subject of “math” as “maths,” so I did come away from the movie with something.
This is a fine little movie with a good cast and some interesting characters, but it is a small film with small aspirations and doesn’t generate much more than a small emotional response.
“A Brilliant Young Mind” isn’t really a movie you need to go out of your way to seek out, but if you stumble across it, there are certainly worse ways to spend your time.
“A Brilliant Young Mind” is not rated but contains some adult language and situations.