FFF 2015 Day 5 A Brilliant Young Mind with * Spoilers *

Sally Hawkins and Asa Butterfield Give Excellent Performances

Sally Hawkins and Asa Butterfield Give Excellent Performances

A Brilliant Young Mind

It would be impossible to give my impression of this movie without revealing its major plot point. If you don’t want the movie to be spoiled for you, please stop reading now.

The movie is about a young teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) who has some kind of unrevealed disorder, such as autism or aspergers. It is  difficult, nearly impossible, for him to hug, hold someone’s hand or sit in the front seat of a car. His sandwiches, lovingly prepared by his dotting mother (Sally Hawkins) must have all the crust sliced away and be cut in four perfectly symmetrical triangles. All food on his plate must be served in a quantity that is a prime number. Despite his social awkwardness, he has an incredible mind for mathematics. A supportive, outcast teacher (Rafe Spall) who once was involved in the math Olympiad at the prestigious Trinity College in England, encourages him to try out for the Olympiad team.

Whether or not he makes the team or succeeds at the Olympiad is not the spoiler I’m going to reveal. The spoiler is that the movie ends with him kissing another teenage girl, crying, hugging, holding his mother’s hand and riding in the front seat of the car.

I didn’t buy it.

The experience of a child with this condition suddenly connecting to other humans in a way that would be considered normal would be like Forrest Gump suddenly getting smart, Rain Man suddenly able to tell a joke or Kayne West suddenly behaving in a civilized manner–it’s just not going to happen. It’s what makes the condition so difficult for those who love someone inflicted with it. It’s like expecting an Alzheimer’s patient to suddenly regain their memory. Everyone hopes for the miracle, but the miracle seldom occurs.

I could have accepted it had the scenes of personal connection been revealed to be a fantasy the mother had. I would have loved the movie had such a fantasy been reinterpreted as a new understanding of his current behavior. Much like the movie Rain Man, had the other characters simply accepted the young teenager, with all his social foibles, and found a way to love and admire him exactly the way he is, this movie could have been transcendent. Instead, it is a movie which I believe is unfair to anyone inflicted with such a condition.

Reactions From the Audience
“It was heartfelt, moving, interesting, well done. An excellent movie. I enjoyed it,” commented Sara “without an ‘h’.”

“It was just amazing,” says a woman with tears in her eyes. “And how shall I identify you for the blog?” I ask. “An anonymous person,” she replies, “but I loved it. It was excellent. That didn’t tell you much, I know that. ”

The lovely elderly lady in the lobby has a nice dialogue with me. “I thought it was a beautiful movie. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. It showed what love can do. You can have all the brain cells in the world, you still need love. It was lovely.” Hearing her say that, I am compelled to ask the question that has been on my mind since the movie ended, “Do you believe that love can do that?” I ask. “Yes, I do,” she emphatically replies. ” I continue, “And is it possible that I don’t like the movie because I don’t believe that love can ‘cure’ such a condition?” “Uh…Yea…If you were real cynical about love you would think it was real sappy there at the end…But I know you believe in love.” I respond, “I know I believe in love, but what if my cynicism is I believe there are some conditions that can’t be overcome? Stephen Hawking will never walk again. The character in that movie will never hold someone’s hand.” “But he did!” She points out. “In the movie,” I counter. She goes on to say, “There are some things you just have to accept. You have to face reality.”

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