Mary and Max

"Essential"

Mary and Max Review


For his first feature, filmmaker Elliot (who won an Oscar for his remarkable short Harvie Krumpet) uses claymation to tell a dark, grown-up story about an extraordinary friendship over 20 years.

Mary (voiced by Whitmore then Collette) is a friendless 8-year-old in Melbourne whose father spends his life quietly stuffing birds while her luridly colourful mother Vera (Geyer) remains attached to a sherry bottle. Desperate for a friend, she writes to a random New Yorker: Max (Hoffman) is a painfully lonely 44-year-old with Asbergers, and her letter completely unsettles his carefully ordered life. But he eventually responds, and over the decades each of them opens up to their pen-pal in extremely unusual ways.

Elliot packs each scene with fantastic details, facts and sight gags, accompanied by impertinent narration by the terrific Humphries. Australia looks washed in drab browns and America in grim greys, while the characters have bulbous eyes, goofy ears and a profound inner sadness. Yet we identify so vividly with them the film is sometimes hard to watch, even as Elliot constantly gives us raucous humour or pure hope.

This is a film about the deep human need to find someone who understands us.

Over the years, both Mary and Max develop friends and acquaintances (including Bana as Mary's hilarious Greek neighbour), although it's only their letter-writing that's constant. They share their goals and dreams, their yearning to find a friend and their joy in each other--even half a world away.

And the voice work is terrific: proper performances that are packed with personality.

Combine this with the expressive, evocative imagery, and we can't help but empathise with the characters' emotions. As Mary and Max learn to rely on each other, they unwittingly encourage each other to break out of their shells. And we fall for them completely, wondering along with them why some people are considered "normal" as if that's a good thing. And also why accepting ourselves is harder than accepting other people.

Despite being animated, this is definitely not a movie for children, although some younger viewers will be captivated by the story's raw honesty, the delightfully warped sense of humour and even the gross-out asides (Max farts almost constantly). This is a witty and sometimes tough story, touching on upsetting events and big issues. And despite the underlying emotion, the film is never sentimental, even as it breaks our hearts more than once along the way. But in the most wonderful way.



Mary and Max

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 9th April 2009

Budget: $8M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Melodrama Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 58 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Adam Elliot

Producer: Melanie Coombs

Starring: as Mary Daisy Dinkle, as Max Jerry Horovitz, as Damien, as Narrator, Bethany Whitmore as Young Mary, Renée Geyer as Vera

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.