Fig. 1. Mary and Max poster.
Mary and Max (2009) is an animated comedy/drama, written and directed by Adam Elliot who also worked on a few other shorts leading up to Mary and Max such as Harvie Krumpet and Cousin. Much like Mary and Max these shorts are used to discuss different disabilities, usually done with a dash of comedy making them light hearted and not overly serious.
Fig. 2. Max still
Mary and Max is the story of a young Australian girl named Mary and her American pen pal Max, two very lonely souls that want nothing more than a friend. Mary is a girl that has a very dysfunctional family, a young lady that doesn’t fully understand the world and Max is an obese, nervous man that has Asperger’s. Elliot does a pretty good job of handling the topic of mental illness in a world which is increasingly sensitive, while using humour as a release throughout the film. The film mainly involves the pair sending each other letters and the reactions that come from them, Marys letters often leave Max stressed and nervous, as she doesn’t truly understand that her questions aren’t completely appropriate.
Fig. 3. Marys mum still
The film is very touching at moments, funny in other moments and then distressing the next, it is a rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout with scenes that make their friendship look beautiful and very touching, to scenes which involve death and attempted suicide. In one scene Mary sends Max tears in a jar as he tells her that he is unable to cry even when he would like to, a moment which makes the audience feel touched, later on however when Mary uses Max and his Asperger’s as a case study for university, the betrayal and sadness is truly imprinted onto the audience, it breaks apart their friendship and causes the film to spiral deeper into distressing moments.
It deals with a lot more than mental illness; it also uses Mary to touch on dysfunctional families, growing up with a mother that is always drunk. This eventually becomes the case for Mary as she becomes an alcoholic and slowly becomes as dysfunctional as her mother was. It tackles loss, as Mary loses just about everyone in her life through either death or being abandoned. While dealing with that, Max’s life is also being played out; this touches on the delicate aspect of mental illness. It shows how Max reacts to certain social situations and how he becomes nervous and unable to articulate what he would like to.
Overall I enjoyed this film and found it rather moving; although it had dark tones throughout that made it slightly uncomfortable to watch at times. I liked how it touched on delicate topics and made an emotional story that was funny at times and devastating moments later. The animation was charming and admirable as the effort and time spent appears vast, honestly after watching it I didn’t overly enjoy the film, however after letting it settle in my mind I believe that it was a very well made film that had a different take on the story of friendship.
Figure 1. Mary and Max poster. (2009) From: Mary and Max, Directed by: Adam Elliot [Film still] At: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8d/Mary_and_max_poster.jpg (Accessed on 23/01/2016)
Figure 2. Max still. (2009) From: Mary and Max, Directed by: Adam Elliot [Film still] At: http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/images/c_fill,h_933,w_1400/t_mp_quality/yhv2pxwaebnvyxedxgvp/mary-and-max-2009-your-drawing-is-an-interesting-visual-portrayal-of-yourself-529396.jpg (Accessed on 23/01/2016)
Figure 3. Marys mum still. (2009) From: Mary and Max, Directed by: Adam Elliot [Film still] At: http://images3.static-bluray.com/reviews/2933_4.jpg (Accessed on 23/01/2016)