I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, it can be interesting or informative to an outsider of Autism/Asperger’s and perchance relatable to those familiar with said conditions. But, on the other hand, it feels kinda forced, sorta unrealistic and rather unfinished. Why Rotten Tomatoes? Why 86%?!
Inspired by real events, A Brilliant Young Mind follows the relationship between an Autistic student and his clicheingly (is that a word?) troubled teacher – whose roles are often reversed which makes you ponder and all that shizz.
Moreover, obviously looking to please a broad audience, it taps into the unfathomable power and experience of first love – a possible explanation of the overly generous 86%.
Now, of the many aspects that don’t work this film…
One, how do all of the Chinese students speak perfect English? That, I can tell you from first-hand experience is not how it is. Two, Nathan isn’t “close” with his mother. Well, in the sense that he was with his deceased father (sorry, not much of a spoiler). And as awkward as their relationship is to watch, with his mother frustratingly trying and trying and trying to win him over – to the point where she is stuffing fries up her nostrils, yep – nothing happens. Actually, the relationships (except for the minor exception of Nathan and Jo’s) go nowhere. The characters don’t change from beginning to end. I’m no writing expert but isn’t that, like, a major requirement? Which brings me to my next point…The characters are shallow. For example, Nathan’s mum has just one expression: a sort-of chirpy desperation which she wears from beginning to finish. Lastly, I felt awful for that show-offy (though he couldn’t help it? He was clearly troubled) kid who everyone ended up shunning in the end. Whatever happened to him? Last we saw, he was cutting himself? Where is my closure Mr. Director? Where?
All in all, it’s watchable and at times even sweet. It can allow you to think outside of your own perception and into the lives of those living with/around “disorder” or help you relate your own personal experiences if you’re already familiar but as farm as e film goes, it does not break new cement. In my South African bestie’s lingo, “no ways”.