Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mary & Max Film Review

Fig1, Mary and Max (2009)

"Mary and Max" is an Australian stopmotion production, released in 2009. Its written and directed by Adam Elliot. In the mid-70s, Mary, an 8 year old girl from Melbourne, Australia, gets in contact with a random person whom she finds in a Manhattan address book via mail. The receiver of the letter is 40 year old Max, an overweight man who lives in New York. The story is now clear, we see how these two very different individuals bond through pen and paper over the years.

Fig2. Mary (2009)

[1]"A very odd, very unlikely animated film from Australia that manages to be sickly-cute, alarmingly grotesque, and right-on at the same time – often in the very same scene." (Pulver,2010) The film is simple, but this simplicity does not take away from its immense visuals. Mary & Max is one of those films that comes as a complete departure from a lot of the other films made these days, both in visual and storytelling style, and is iconic because of it. Also, the film cuts deep in the heart of the audience, especially to those who feel they may not fit perfectly in this world. It gives a personal feeling makes us feel as if we are experiencing this for ourselves.

Fig3. Max and Mary, (2010)

Something particularly peculiar and interesting about the films story is the way it explores adult themes, and more so, the amount of engagement and understanding Mary shows towards this. Their letters consist of talks about mental illnesses and sex, while the story touches upon death, suicide, alcoholism and many other things a respectable adult wouldn't indulge so deep and meaningfully into with a child aged 8. Julie.D also sheds some light and reasoning on this point in her review, [2]"There is plenty of humor, some of it rather subtle, although the movie often surprises with how serious some of the subject matter is and the depth to which the filmmaker is willing to explore it. This is all aided by the fact that Mary and Max are each, in their own way, complete innocents who write exactly what they are thinking, whether it will hurt or confuse the other person or not." (D, 2010) They do, however, grow with each other over 20 years. These letters provide deep meaning to their friendship resulting in Mary coming over to New York to see Max.

Fig4. Max at a bus stop, (2009)

Looking at the film from a stylistic point of view, one might say it is a dark and dismal version of Wallace & Gromit when put side by side, but its also broken the mould and has become something else, something of its own. The characters are a lot more exaggerated, the animation more detailed and the story is something that will leave footsteps in your memory.


1. Pulver, Andrew (Thursday 21 October 2010), Mary and Max – review In: [online] Available at:

2. D, Julie (Monday, August 9, 2010), Confuzzlement* Abounds: Reviewing Mary and Max In: [online] Available at:

Illustration List:

1. Adam Elliot (2009), Mary and Max [electronic print] Available at:

2. Adam Elliot (2009), Mary [electronic print] Available at:

3. Adam Elliot (2010), Max and Mary [electronic print] Available at:

4. Adam Elliot (2009), Max at a bus stop [electronic print] Available at:

No comments:

Post a Comment