In the mid-1970's, a homely, friendless Australian girl of 8 picks a name out of a Manhattan phone book and writes to him; she includes a chocolate bar. She's Mary Dinkle, the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted father. He's Max Horowitz, an overweight man with Asperger's, living alone in New York. He writes back, with chocolate. Thus begins a 20-year correspondence, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and a few misunderstandings. Mary falls in love with a neighbor, saves money to have a birthmark removed and deals with loss. Max has a friendship with a neighbor, tries to control his weight, and finally gets the dream job. Will the two ever meet face to face? Written by
Coming from Australia, Mary and Max is one of these few films you'll remember all your life. This amazing claymation touches upon an unlikely friendship between two pen pals: a young girl living in Australia and an aging Jew from New York. It's unbelievable what a precisely structured narrative this is. Director-writer Adam Elliot blends odd scatological, yet clever humour with poignant dramatizations to a splendid effect creating one of the best tragicomedies of the past few years. The fact that it's in the form of claymation only helps to enhance uniqueness of the whole experience. The movie was 5 years in the making and this is visible in its every frame. Elliot masterly captures the motion in an endlessly creative manner. Most importantly though, his lovably oddball characters are well developed and admirably complex with all their awkward traits and quirks. Due to its serious themes and dark tone, Mary and Max is an adult movie aiming much higher than its big studio counterparts. It happens to be more contemplative, and intelligent mimicking the real life with all its ups and downs. Calling Elliot's movie an extraordinary piece of art is certainly not an overstatement.
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