Mary and Max
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The film, apparently based on a true story, plays like Wallace and Gromit conceived by Oliver Sacks and imagined by David Lynch and Robert Crumb. The animated characters, who tend to be overweight with exaggerated melancholy expressions, are nevertheless enormously expressive - and the film seamlessly shifts from the muted colors of the rundown Australian suburb where Mary lives to the expressive black and white of Max's New York City.
Mary (Toni Collette) is a curious and lonely girl, whose father is unavailable and whose mother is an alcoholic kleptomaniac and whose neighbors are each in their own way inscrutable. Confronted by questions the adults around her are unwilling to answer, she selects Max's name at random from an American phonebook and writes an inquisitive letter to a complete stranger. Initially thrown for a loop by this unexpected query, Max detects a kindred spirit and responds to her letter with complete sincerity. So begins a peculiar correspondence, fraught throughout with misunderstanding but culminating in a lifelong friendship that is able to carry them both through a great deal of personal misfortune and tragedy.
The voice of Phillip Seymour Hoffman invests the character of Max with a deeply sincere confusion about the peculiar games that people play.Read more ›
Those familiar with the animator - Adam Elliot - may recall he won an Oscar for "Harvie Krumpet" in the category of
short animated films. This film is his major oevre, an expanded version of the shorter film, albeit with different characters.
Ostensibly, the story is about a friendship between two unlikely partners. Max is an overweight, depressed, New York Jew suffering from serious mental illness. Mary is 8 years old, chubby, and confused. Both are lonely and underappreciated...and through the chance occurrence of a letter from Mary to Max, they develop a deep and real
friendship as pen pals.
Now, in many respects, both characters are very flawed human beings. And that is what makes the film remarkable. So many animated films from Finding Nemo to Beauty and the Beast end with a successful quest of the hero and heroine. This storyline is far more subtle. Both Mary and Max battle the everyday troubles of modern life - finding a way to fit in a world when they don't fit in at all. Searching for an influence on this movie in the history of cinema, I might select the Oscar best picture "Marty" which filmed a love affair between two ordinary people in the 1950's.
I cannot finish the review without saying something about the extraordinary recreation of New York City in ClayMation. I rather liked the fact the film uses claymation for the characters because it renders them far more "earthy" than the bright, digital CGI formula so popular today.
This is a film with dark moments and tender moments and annoying moments...in sum a film about life as it is really lived.
It is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a chubby, homely, and socially maladjusted 8 year old girl in Melbourne, Australia named Mary Daisy Dinkle and a severely overweight and neurotic middle-aged Russian-Jewish man in New York with Asperger syndrome, named Max Jerry Horowitz. Mary has no friends and is taken care of by her alcoholic and kleptomaniac mother. On a chance visit to the post office, she finds an American phonebook and decides to write to someone to ask where babies come from while her mother tries to steal boxes of envelopes. The name she randomly chose was Max's, whom she sends a letter and a candy bar. They share a love for chocolate, a Smurfs-like show called The Noblets, and a need for friendship. In each other, they find kindred spirits and what follows is two decades of humorous correspondence and weird gift exchanges.
Voiced by an almost unrecognizable Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he plays the part of Max perfectly. There are no words to convey the frequency and weirdness of the deadpan humor. You'll just have to watch it. Literally every minute or two is filled with some weird joke, dialog, or visual gag. Owing to Max's autism, there's a lot of random humor and non sequiturs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
absolutely one of the best movies to show how much our words and actions impact lifePublished 7 days ago by catherine
Slightly dark and twisted, but I love the claymation and the story.Published 18 days ago by audrey01
Everything well done. The characters were nuanced and the ongoing revelation of their personality flaws was great theatre. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mighty Mike
I love love love this movie. So beautiful.
I CRIED UNCONTROLLABLY.