Mary and Max Review


This clay-animation from Australian director Adam Elliot blends dark themes with a poignant sense of endearing friendship.

The plot revolves around a bespectacled 8-year-old girl from Australia devoid of friends besides her pet rooster Ethel.

In search of companionship she writes a letter on a whim to the address of one unknown 40-something, Max Jerry Horowitz in New York, asking where babies come from as her grandfather told her they are found at the bottom of beer glasses.

Despite at first being ‘‘confuzzled’’ by the letter which causes him great anxiety, Max decides to respond saying that when he was four, his mother told him they came from eggs laid by rabbis if you were Jewish, Catholic nuns if you were Christian and prostitutes if you were atheist. Thus starts a twenty-year relationship of an unlikely pairing of individuals.

The film is deeply touching as Mary offers Max the social interaction he has always wanted but found difficult as he has Asperger’s syndrome. Her naivety allows her to ask questions which fit Max’s literal way of thinking thus allowing for humour but also an innocent friendship which breaks the obvious age barrier. There is no feeling that the relationship is one that is unusual but works given the circumstances of the two. This only sees tension as Mary begins to grow up, as losing her innocence she begins to relate to Max in a way which he finds difficult.

Dealing with themes such as loneliness, depression and anxiety, the film is at times oppressive, but this only accentuates the remarkable friendship of the pair who despite being from completely contrary backgrounds are able to associate their various lifetime experiences offering useful advice for each other that is anything but conventional.

Delivered entirely in monochrome with Max’s world in black and white whilst Mary’s is sepia, it emphasises the mundanity of their unhappy existences which appear complete only when brought together.

Elliot has made a bold move in trying to capture the relationship of this disparate pair that is both personal and compassionate. An animation reserved for adults, it offers a very individual look at an unusual circumstance. Based on a true story and featuring an all star voice cast (Toni Collette, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana and Barry Humphries), this is an animation that shouldn’t be missed.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 26th 2010.

One Response to Mary and Max Review

  1. Such an interesting film, it’s always good to see an animation film that’s not aimed at children. And it’s actually very witty and amusing at times as well as being horribly depressing.

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