Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mary And Max (2010) | Australia | Film Review

Mary And Max is an Australian stop motion animation directed by Adam Elliot, released in the year of 2009. Elliot had previously directed shorts such as Uncle 1996), Cousin (1999) and Brother (2000) earlier in his long running career and gifted audiences with Mary And Max after he had built up a sizeable reputation as a director who knew how to work within the animation world.

Fig 1: Movie Poster, Mary And Max

Mary And Max tells the story of Mary Daisy Dinkle, voiced by Toni Collette, an eight year old girl living a rather depressing life within a small area of Australia, depicting an adaptation of true events that took place within the real world. After giving audiences an insight into the home life of Mary Dinkle, the viewer is introduced to a number of the individuals that make up Mary's existence, including a repulsive mother and a cast of characters that bring a darker tone to the story, one of those characters being a father who practices taxidermy in the back garden shed. After a chance address book leads Mary to Max, a forty four year old man living alone in New York voiced by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the pair strike up a friendship via writing to each other and the remainder of the film tells not only the story of their friendship but intricate details of their individual lives.

Fig 2: Screenshot, Mary And Max

From the very offset Mary And Max feels extremely grounded to its Australian roots, not only in its environment design but from everything from its humor to casting choices. The physical design of the set and props within the film feel extremely Australian, they riff off of a dusty 'outback' vibe that is without a doubt associated with that area of the world and allow it to define the tone of Mary's world. This dusty filter that seems to cover a lot of the Australian side of the film is almost given free reign across Mary's side of story and is dialed back dramatically to a more noir influenced look when the narration is focused on Max's story, not only giving Max's narration a much darker tone but literally defining the time difference using black and white and subtle tones, highlighting the idea that Australia can often feel like a far away land due to the time change, adding to the idea that Mary has trouble connecting with people as her personality is potentially mirrored in the time change.

As for the humor that runs through the course of the film, it definitely feels Australian in that it focusses on a more dry style of comedy that at times relies on a level of shock value, again potentially creating a gap that intentionally separates a foreign audience from the cast, creating a detached tone that gives Mary an added feeling of isolation, this style of comedy is also mirrored in parts of Max's story. This fashion of humor lends itself so well to this particular film as at times it is clearly focusing on delivering a strong sense of seclusion and a bold idea of difference, something that is mirrored ten fold in the comedy, altogether leading to an extremely successful production that was met with critical acclaim.

Fig 3: Screenshot, Mary And Max

Mary And Max has used its origins roots to an extremely successful level within a number of elements of its core, using a tone that is relevant to its values and homeland to create a sense of difference and seclusion and a dry style of comedy that focusses on shocks to form a state of isolation from its audience, whilst still keeping the story at an extremely personal level so that the audience remains connected to the characters at all times, meaning that the film has sense of character throughout and maintains a message that is mirrored in its artistic choices.  

Illustration List

Fig 1: Movie poster, Mary And Max, http://www.impawards.com/2009/mary_and_max.html, Accessed on: 24.01.17

Fig 2: Screenshot, Mary And Max, http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0978762/mediaviewer/rm3857157632, Accessed on: 24.01.17

Fig 3: Screenshot, Mary And Max, http://www.aceshowbiz.com/still/00005171/mary_and_max17.html, Accessed on: 24.01.17

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