Mary & Max Film Review: Conditionally Crude Claymation

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Outside Submission by Priyam R. from Creative Writing for Publication class.

Mary and Max; this film…this film has been a journey for me; a journey that I have undertaken over the course of several days but to every brave soul out there who wishes to drink the majesty of this film in one sitting, be warned as beneath the cute, cuddly claymation exterior lies a dark ,dreary and almost depressing at times film that deals with rather heavy subjects.

To start with, the film does present itself well with claymation that’s done in extensive detail. In accordance to the style of the esteemed director Adam Elliot, who is known for great claymation movies like ‘Harvie Krumpet’ or more recently ‘Ernie Biscuit’, The movie plays out almost like a book, the use of third person narration, layering and a myriad of other literary devices make it feel as if you are on the window sill with the rain beating down on the glass pane while you enjoy a hot drink at the same time drinking in the story, just in this case the subject matter would not be something I would recommend to someone looking for something relaxing. Regardless all this bodes well for the overall film as it is a great medium that the film uses to employ subtle humor and provide the more observant viewers with information that would otherwise go unnoticed. Another point to note is that the colour scheme the film uses, a more childish yet colourful orangish-brown for Mary’s side of the story and a dull black and white for Max’s side, it’s little touches like this that separate the mundane and the masterpiece.

Now getting to the meat of the film or rather the slimy, salty and disgusting texture of clay that those of you who ate it in their childhood would remember, the story mainly concerns itself with the relationship between two unlikely pen pals and their growth over time; their names being Mary and Max. Mary (Toni Collette) is an eight-year-old Australian girl depicted to be the clichéd troubled kid who is bullied at school and has family troubles at home. Then there is Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is a middle aged American living with a mundane job and a distinct inability to control his eating habits. The movie spans over 20 years with the epistles between the two main characters. The journey they take and the same that you get to view is one that explores friendship, Mental illnesses, psychiatry, alcoholism, Origin of life, obesity, kleptomania, sexual preferences, religious values, agoraphobia and many more of life’s wonders.

With that said, to truly understand the essence of this film you need to watch it yourself. It is a well written piece that does its part to depict the growth of its characters while effectively conveying its messages. An emotional roller coaster that leaves you laughing at its absurdity at times and at times it makes you tear up at its sheer brilliance. A must watch!