Mary and Max – Review
Updated: Apr 6
Mild Spoiler Warning
As I’ve said countless times before, I was nervous going into this film. Just from the monotonous colours within the film I knew that it was going to be existential and thought provoking and I won’t lie; I was worried that it was going to be too heavy for me. I didn’t fancy watching a film that would upset me today! But don’t worry, this film isn’t as gloomy as you’d expect.
Mary and Max follows the story of an 8 year old Australian girl; named Mary Dinkle, who doesn’t have any friends, is an only child and has pretty neglectful parents. One day, she stumbles across a New York phone book in her local post office and decides to ask “where do babies come from in America?” to a random person in the phone book. Mary picks a Mr. M Horowitz, who we later find out is 44-year-old Max Horowitz. Mary writes the typical nonsensical letter that any 8 year old child would write and sends it all the way to New York. Max has Aspergers Syndrome; (click here to learn more about Aspergers Syndrome) meaning he has trouble communicating and gets incredibly anxious when presented with new or uncertain things. This causes him to be closed off from the world, with only his pets, his blind, elderly neighbour and his imaginary friend for company. So when Max receives Mary’s letter, he is happy at first to have finally found a friend however has a meltdown shortly after due to the unprecedented nature of the letter. Due to Max’s childlike nature, the letters that Mary receives back are of a similar innocent nature. The two then exchange letters through the highs and lows of their lives for the remainder of the film. Mary and Max is apparently loosely based on real life events.
Where to start with this film, as mentioned before; it’s refreshing to see an animated film made in Australia making it’s way over here. I don’t think I’ve watched an Australian animated film consciously before. With this film being stop motion, it of course reminds me of Tim Burton’s animated films and films from the stop motion animated studio; Laika as both usually contain characters with exaggerated features in their designs. I’d like to say that this film can be for everyone but don’t be fooled. The film starts out almost like a Cbeebies show with simplistic, rhythmic story telling. However it does goes on to contain some adult themes and overall, may be dull to young children anyway. There’s a great mix of childlike comedy which in the next minute turns into frank adult jokes which can be a little risqué at times but both styles compliment each other well.
There’s a real heartfelt message Mary & Max and I’m so pleased to see a film where Aspergers is treated as a normal part of some peoples lives. It’s honest (not sugar coated or exaggerated), it’s not used to make the audience feel unnecessary sympathy for Max or as a way to poke fun at him. I was worried that this film would take a dark turn and although it did have it’s dark times; it was mostly simple, honest and innocent, done through beautiful use of colours to demonstrate the difference between a child’s Australia and a middle aged man’s New York.
If anyone is now interested in this film PLEASE look into it. Be prepared to get attached to these characters to then feel a heavy heart and cry at the end (yeah, I cried a little!). It really is a sweet film worth your time.
For more film reviews from me, see what else I have to offer right here as well as my work on nerdoutwordout.com.