Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mary and Max (2009) - Film Review

'Mary and Max' is a 2009 stop motion animation directed by Adam Elliot. Mary and Max is a story about two pen friends across the world from each other. Mary, voiced by Toni Collette, is an eight year old girl living in Australia who seems to be segregated as from the start we can see her friends consist of homemade 'nobblet' characters. Where as Max, voiced by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is a 44 year old Jewish man living in New York. The two are very different yet similar to each other which is what brings the two stories together so well.
Fig 1

 Max, living in New York on his own is a very disconnected man, living in his own world. He is portrayed as socially awkward and has some less then ordinary traits. This is later explained within the film when we discover that Max suffers from Asperger'a syndrome. Mary, living in the suburbs or Melbourne is a lonely eight year old girl who seems to have a dysfunctional family to say the least. Her father works screwing on the caps to toothpaste tubes, which we can see portrayed as a mind numbing job. Her mother is a thief and an alcoholic who is always seen with a cigarette in her mouth and a bottle of sherry on standby. When out with her mother at a post office, Mary finds an international phone book in which she tears off a random name and address. Mary, filled with questions about the world. as any eight year old child would be, writes a letter to this random persons asking questions about the difference between the two countries and asking about the person she's writing to. Max, who lives on his own responds to Mary's letter answering her questions and providing topics of conversation. Just from the initial letters sent between the two it becomes apparent that even though these two people are on different sides of the earth and with a huge age gap are still fairly similar in many aspects. The film uses these letters from the two to explain important life events from the two main characters and it shows how these coincide with the moods and personalities of the characters as time develops.

I feel as if the choice in the style of animation, stop motion, is a very effective way to portray the story being told. The style used also greatly impacts the comedic effect throughout the film as it allows exaggerated movement and lets you clearly see the characters development. For example throughout the film we notice Max is getting increasingly bigger and bigger. I feel as if the use of clay and stop motion animation allows us to easily notice this transformation. It makes transformations such as this look more noticeable and works better than if it was real people rather than animation.
fig 2

Another aspect of the style of animation that makes this film stand out to me is how the film addresses some serious mental health issues and at some stages some dark, real life situations. But through the use of stop motion clay animation it makes these matters feel slightly lighter and makes them watchable. If these situations where played out in a non animation film then it would be seen as a very dark film, more then likely with a high age rating for viewers. But the use of the stop motion animation has allowed these issues to be tackled and brought to light but in a manor that can be viewed and understood by everyone. Making it a very powerful film.

Image Referencing

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