Mary and Max (2009) is an Australian clay-animated film directed and written by Adam Eliot. His previous work includes Harvie Krumpet (2003) and Uncle (1996), which have gone on to win awards such as an Oscar. His work features recurring themes including, themes of mental illnesses, friendships and childhood neglect that are depicted in his style of clay characters that are consistent throughout his work, refusing to use any digital effects in his films. The main characters Mary and Max are voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette.
Mary and Max are two very different people who have become pen-pals from the opposite sides of the Earth. Mary being an 8 year old lonely child from the Australian Suburbs whose mother neglects her and has no friends, while Max is a 44 year old man living alone in New York City with Asperger’s syndrome. They meet when Mary wants to learn more about the world, specifically American and too make a friend, so she picks an address at random from a phone book at the local post office and sends a letter to the address, which happens to be Max’s, asking her questions and asking how to deal with the bullying she is suffering. Max replies offering her advice to solve her problems, telling her how he dealt with the same problems when he was a child and continuing to send letters back and forth their friendship grows.
I felt it was trying to bring awareness to childhood neglect and mental illness and the impact that this can then have in later life and how something so small can change someone’s entire future. This is achieved through the story and how the particular narrative structure is formed through the use of pen pals and the time scale it used. The art direction works with the narrative with the obscure personalities fitting with the caricature style clay models. I would recommend this film as it manages to get a serious message across while still managing to be funny.