About A Boy (spoilers)

I finally got around to watching the movie and as I’m watching it I found myself starting to wonder if Nick Hornby (who wrote the book) had purposely given Marcus some Aspergers behaviors?

For instance,

Marcus’ misunderstanding of social cues and not understanding 'clique" behaviors in school.

Just showing up at Hugh Grant’s house and making himself at home.

Telling Hugh Grant, “Pick me up at 417 (street address), flat two, Islington, London”

Marcus not understanding that certain clothes could make him cooler.

Telling Fiona and Hugh Grant to have a conversation in the restaurant.

It made the movie more enjoyable for me. Nick Hornsby has a son who is autistic and certainly is familiar with Aspergers.

Did anyone else note this?


Disclaimer thingie: I"m not trying to do the, “Oooh, there’s a person with Asperger’s thing.”, that drives me nuts. Marcus didn’t have other diagnostic criteria for Aspergers and it wasn’t something that I picked up on in the book. I just thought it is a possibility, knowing about Nick Hornsby’s son.

I had no idea that Nick Hornby’s son was autistic - are you able to point me to some info on this?

Hmm. I’ll have to re-watch the movie now, with that in mind. It would seem like a possibility that Hornby might have given some advice to the actor.

Now, I don’t have any sort of syndrome, and I have a hard enough time believing this myself.

Among adults, yes–one would think that we don’t judge quite as much as children. The book and the movie, though, deal with a pre-teen boy. The majority of children that age are very into wearing the “right” brands and type of clothing.

I didn’t read it (um, see it, I watched the video Saturday night) as Marcus not understanding that the clothes made him cool as much as that he experienced divided loyalties to his mother, who was oblivous to that whole dynamic. The little scene at the beginning where she calls out “I love you” as he’s entering the schoolyard, and you see the struggle played out on his face before he decides to respond. He knew that that wasn’t cool – but he couldn’t “abandon” his mother to a non-response. I was reading that whole relationship as her being too caught up in her own misery to be clear about what was going on with him.

IRL: My bipolar mother did a bunch of suicide attempts when I was growing up, so obviously that relationship really spoke to me in this movie.

Also IRL: I have a coworker who matches the clinical descriptions of Asperger’s extremely closely (I’ve read up on it in an effort to make sense of his behavior), and I don’t see it so much in Marcus. The singing, maybe – but I read him as being troubled and preoccupied, not incapable of getting involved with others. His relationship with the punk girl, for instance, despite the whole mascot/toleration thing on her part, read as a genuinely human connection to me.

Thanks for starting the thread, whistlepig – I’ve been thinking about this movie all weekend!

nick hornby edited and contributed to a fantastic collection of short stories called “speaking with the angel.” the book features stories from irvine welsh(trainspotting), roddy doyle(the committments), zadie smith(white teeth), colin firth(actor from shakespeare in love, bridget jones’ diary), patrick marber(closer), and many many others…
in the forward, hornby explains that he has an autistic son and that proceeds from the book will benefit a home for autistic kids in the uk, and if you buy the book in the us, is proceeds a foundation for autistic kids here… it’s a great cause and an even better book, so you should def. pick it up


In the book, he makes very clear that Marcus is a complete literalist: he doesn’t understand irony or sarcasm, causing for some of the funniest moments in the book. Is this consistent with Apergers?

The book also stresses that much of Marcus’s behavior springs from the 60s-ish anti-materialistic faculty-brat upbringing he received from his mother:

“Marcus knew he was weird, and he knew that part of the reason he was weird was because his mum was weird. … She was always telling him that only shallow people made judgements on the basis of clothes or hair; she didn’t want him to watch rubbish television, or listen to rubbish music, or play rubbish computer games (she thought they were all rubbish) … It wasn’t so bad in Cambridge [where Marcus used to live], because there were loads of kids who weren’t right for school, and loads of mums who made them that way, but in London it was different.”

Having grown up in a university town myself, I can empathize. :slight_smile:


Some of Marcus’ behaviors were “Aspergerish” and like Wumpus said, some of the behaviors were the result of how he was raised. This latter point makes the diagnosis of Aspergers more . . . interesting from the viewpoint of how mental disorders are created, defined and diagnosed. (But that’s something for a whole different thread.)

Of course, I’m the guy that holds babies or plays with toddlers and immediately starts doing a developmental assessment. :slight_smile: