“Mary and Max” is a stop-motion animated film set in 1976, where 8-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore as a child, and by Toni Collette as an adult),... more who lives in Melbourne, decides to write a letter to someone living in New York City. She goes on to form a friendship with Max (voiced by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) through each others letters.
Both are troubled human beings: Mary is lonely and is bullied for her poor family and an unfortunate birthmark on her forehead. Max is a morbidly obese 44-year-old with various mental problems, including autism and anxiety attacks, making it difficult for him to form relationships with people. As Mary and Max send each other letters throughout the years, they learn more about themselves and each other.
Although the film states that it is based on a true story, writer-director Elliot clarified that this story was inspired by a pen pal from New York with whom he has been corresponding for over 20 years.
Animated films don’t usually tackle issues such as mental disorders (autism, in particular), depression, poverty, anxiety, bullying, or loneliness. “Mary and Max” is definitely not a film I’d recommend to children, as its content can be too intense for them. In a similar fashion to the animated film “Persepolis” (also mostly in black and white), it manages to be both down-to-earth and surreal, through very big issues and themes. The animation adds a more surreal element to the characters and its world. It has some depressing moments, but it has enough lighthearted, funny and uplifting moments to balance it out.
“Mary and Max” is one of the best stop-motion animated films I have ever seen, and it left me sobbing by the end of it. It leaves a powerful messages about friendship, the importance of loving oneself and the imperfections of life.
DIRECTOR: Adam Elliot
SCREENPLAY: Adam Elliot
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