A Brilliant Young Mind

A strong cast (Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Rafe Spall) elevates this sweet British drama about a meek, autistic boy (Asa Butterfield of Hugo) who discovers an extraordinary talent for math. Director Morgan Matthews based this on his BAFTA-award-winning documentary Beautiful Young Minds (2007), which followed a group of British prodigies to the International Math Olympiad in Slovenia. The dramatic version is firmly grounded by real-life circumstances, and the competitive but collegial environment of the IMO (its annual gathering transplanted here to Taiwan) is warmly handled. But the performances are the real attraction; only an actress of Hawkins’s skill could pull off the scene in which the boy’s mother struggles to explain to him how she feels about his father’s death: “When someone you love is subtracted from you, it makes you feel like your value is less than it was.” The script is by playwright James Graham.