Mary and Max (2009)

Director: Adam Elliot
Starring: Toni Collette, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana, Narrated by Barrie Humphries. Australia/USA. 1h 32m

It’s hard to summarise the movie in words and it just makes you think and feel of so many childhood moments and  nostalgia once again. If you’re someone who’s in a dark place I’d like to think that the two requited characters The are the scent of Elliot’s movie will help rekindle something in you as they speak to audiences on a universal level.

Two unlikely people. Two different worlds come together in a story about a most unusual friendship.

 Elliot has his own brilant rough edgy style of animation, and he develops his study characters into the cast, a Slightly confused and yet wonderful young girl in Australia and an Autisitc Jewish guy who lives in a claustrophobic  and anxiety filled apartment on the fringes of an American city. The two couldn’t be more in contrast and yet it sets the stage for a very promising laugh out loud comedy. Yet the film still hits the heart strings hard.  The opening credits of the movie suggest that it is based on a true story and that does make it somewhat harder to digest however,  Elliot has gone on to explain but it’s only partially based in reality this doesn’t distract from the fact that it’s still emotionally charged however hopefully it will alleviate some of the stress that’s half the viewers may find

“The reason I forgive you is because you are not perfect. You are imperfect. And so am I,  All humans are imperfect.”


Mary is a young Australian girl who’s raised by two dysfunctional parents.  Her mother is permanently drunk and has a habit of borrowing items from the local stores,  or at least that’s how Mary sees it, And for the most part her chocolate tinted world can only be described through the eyes of a child. Her father works in a factory  attaching strings to teabags and seem to spend all of free time avoiding his drunk and wife. The family are dirt poor and Mary’s often teased at school. 

Through a random act she pulls her address from a telephone book and decides to write to the the occupant of a random apartment in America,striking up a friendship with Max,  an elderly Jewish gentleman who suffers from autism,  most notably Asperger’s syndrome.  at first Mary’s childlike questions often sends Max into panic situations causing him to have to seek help from his doctor. 

Is Mary matures into an intelligent and humble young woman learning about life, romance, study and trying to find her success in Her chosen field of psychology,  Max also goes through his own series of ups and downs,  wonderful and disastrous life-changing events and the two slowly forge and unbreakable bond, Not only through their favourite collectible toys and mutual love of chocolate but just for the fact that they are are wonderful humans and have a unique way of viewing the world. 

"I cannot understand how being honest can be considered improper. Maybe this is why I don't have any friends."

There’s some gorgeous decisions about the look and feel of the movie, Mary’s Australian home is made up of a pallet of warm brown, while Max’s harsh city is a black and white monochrome but when the pair send each other gifts they are often highlighted as red, and stand out against everything, as a beacon that the other is looking over them, making sure they don’t feel alone anymore.

The movie is bound to entertain and thrill through it’s black humor and ability to see the funny side in all sorts of dark situations, it’s not often death can be chuckled at, the language used is frank and at times a little crass but there’s a genuine feeling of wonderment that will astound. If there’s one thing you may learn is that everyone, no matter how insignificant they feel, has an important message but they and you will have to dig deep to find it sometimes, but I only pray that you find that message and share it before it’s too late.


Rating: 8/10
Related: Persepolis (2007)
Lists: Stop Motion Animated Films Vol 1
Spotlight: Toni Collette, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana
Article : AOFA Short Introduction and Brief History of Stop Motion Cinema

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