Saturday, 17 January 2015

Mary & Max (2009)

Fig 1. Mary & Max Poster

Mary & Max could be described as an idea too risqué, multicultural and grounded in reality to find itself amongst the 'conventionally kooky' screenplays of contemporary directors based in stop-motion. Writer and director Adam Elliot was privileged enough to open the Sundance Film Festive in 2009 with its very first screening of an animated feature, since being founded in 1978. Having opened to critical acclaim, Mary & Max went on to receive several prestigious awards, including 'Best Direction' and 'Best Animated Film', which only furthered the success of this uplifting yet bleak motion picture.

The premise centres around the unexpected friendship of two pen-pals on opposite sides of the world; one a neglected prepubescent Australian girl by the name of Mary (Toni Collette) and the other a lonely forty-four year old bachelor suffering with Asperger's named Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman). They initially find common ground through their love of chocolate and idolisation of fictional cartoon 'The Noblets', which soon leads to deeper conversations regarding the hardships they have faced in life. With both characters sharing a naive sense of abandonment, Mary and Max continue their ongoing friendship over the course of many years, along the way facing their own trials of love and loss on opposite sides of the world.

Despite the unrecognisable vocal performances of the A-list leads, the film carries itself throughout with its grotesque charm and quirky narrative. The juxtaposition of colour and greyscale between countries signifies the state of living in 1970s New York, whilst enriching the prospect of an optimistic eight-year-old raised in disregard by her alcoholic mother and distant father. As with the precedent for most high-profile stop-motion features in recent years, Mary & Max receives additional praise with its attention to detail and ability to register quality over quantity. Themes of the film never shy away from the bleakness and truth of reality, with impressively choreographed and often uncomfortable scenes to fit with the innocent perspectives of the leads.

Overall this film demonstrates a demand for the adult approach to animated cinema, whilst also making itself relatable to a wide audience.

Fig 1. Mary and Max Poster (2009) From: Mary and Max - Directed by: Adam Elliot

1 comment:

  1. Good review, however I'd suggest finding and watching (on youtube) Adam Elliot's previous animated shorts, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, and Harvey Krumpted and adding reference to them in your review. They are essentially a testing ground for Mary and Max.