May 19, 2009

Mary And Max

Mary And Max is quite simply, a joy to behold. It will make you laugh and cry in nearly the same breath. It contains a unique sense of humour and an ocean of emotion. Yes, it's truly wonderful. In 2003 writer-director Adam Elliot released the award winning short film "Harvie Krumpet" and this is the follow up. After five years of hard work Elliot has crafted a film that will touch many people with its heart and honesty, a true gem.

Mary And Max, a claymation film, tells the story of young Mary Dinkle, who lives in suburban Melbourne and the friendship she forms with Max Horovitz, a man in his forties who lives in New York. Their friendship spans twenty years, going through many ups and downs as they write letters to each other without ever meeting. Mary lives in Mount Waverley in the 1970s. She has a nondescript father and a horrible mother. She tries her best, but she is shunned by other children and feels terribly alone. Her only true friend is her pet rooster, Ethel. One day she picks Max's name out of a telephone directory and writes to him, asking him all sorts of strange questions. Max suffers from Asperger Syndrome, is obese and very lonely. He leaps at the opportunity to form a friendship, although strange and unique. The letters between the two are lovingly created, full of humour and pathos. Warmth and reflection. There is amazing honesty in this film, it truly creates a unique world of amazing characters. Young Mary is voiced by Bethany Whitmore, whilst the older Mary is the work of Toni Collette. Max is voiced at all times by the always superb Philip Seymour Hoffman. They all do a great job, never ever descending into parody or condescendion. Holding the entire story together is the earnest narration of Barry Humphries.

Mary And Max is a true gem. The humour is wonderfully wry and the characters are more substantial and real then most live action features. The film has a unique Australian feel to it that never reaches for cliche. The Dinkles live in Lamington Drive, but it just feels appropriate, in amongst the Sherrins and jars of Marmite. It's looking like a very good year for Australian film.

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