Mary and Max – Review


Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Mary and Max) aid audiences to delve into issues of depression, alcoholism and suicide through their distant but initimate pen pal relationship… Having previously won an Academy Award for his directorial work on animation Harvie Krumpet, Adam Elliot brings us clay animation film piece ‘Mary and Max’. On initial glance it’s give the impression of a light-hearted children’s film but it touches on serious mature themes usually tackled by adult films including depression, kleptomania, alcoholism and suicide. “The thing is, even though these are blobs of plasticine, I want people to identify with them and relate to them and see themselves, family members, friends,”.

Toni Collette plays Mary and an awkward, shy, lonely eight year old who struggles with an alcoholic mother and bullying at school. Phillip Seymour Hoffman portrays Max an even more awkward obese, middle aged atheist/Jewish New Yorker who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. Together by chance and more importantly through dyer loneliness they forge a twenty two year relationship. Somewhat inspired by a true international pen pal friendship “a pen-friend in New York who I’ve been writing to for over twenty years” Elliot uses animation to address the need for genuine companionship in whatever shape it comes.

The ‘claymation/clayography/clay-feature’ (there seems to be no real standard word yet) took around half a decade to make and is so detailed at times, it’s a wonder at how long scenes wonder have taken to produce. A bubble bath moment, an operation table scene and even a murder montage of several unlucky goldfish. It is as bizarre as it sounds but the skill and level of detail of work highlights stop motion films as serious art not to be undermined despite being in the minority in the face of the mighty Pixar.

It’s slapstick at times, but it uses humour as a way to draw focus on issues which affect some of us bullying, alcoholism, aspergers, kleptomania, depression, suicide as well as issues which affect all of us….loneliness, nature of friendships and forgiveness. I left the cinema far more emotionally moved and invested than I had planned.

Mary and Max is released in selected cinemas around the UK 22nd October 2010

Published Here:

Von Von Lamunu


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