While having breakfast, my friend introduced me to this film. She fell in love with that movie even though it’s a claymation. She knew that I’ll be curious to check that one out because it’s animation. I love animation but I’m sort of connoisseur when it comes to my preferences. So I gave it a try, I trust my friends a lot when it comes to movies. As soon I got home, I looked for copies and I was surprised that I found myself in front of the screen, spending an hour and a half eavesdropping on characters’ life as if they were real.
I must say that “Mary and Max” touched me like no other claymation did to me before. Yes, I’m a fan of Aardman Animation, Wallace and Gromit , Coraline and Tim Burton claymation films but this one got the lonely person out of me. Each scene are made and shown with sadness.
The story starts with a narration, telling us the characteristics, dream and anxieties of the main characters. Mary Daisy Dinkle is a lonely 8-year-old living in Mount Waverly, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia in 1976. Her mother Vera is a slovenly alcoholic, and her father Noel is a stoic taxidermy enthusiast. While on the other side of the world, Max is a depressed, overweight, 44-year-old New York City resident. He has odd mannerisms that make it difficult for him to relate to others. He lives in a small apartment with an assortment of pets, and his only socialization is his weekly Overeaters Anonymous meetings. The only thing they have in common is that they don’t have real friends. Mary made her friends out of chicken bones and scrap while Max grown up with his imaginary friend.
Their lives are sad but I was changed when Mary did an experiment, she randomly picked a stranger’s address in the directory and sends that person a letter. The thought is cute and innocent but it got interesting when the stranger from New York, Max answered back the letter and thus they began exchanging thought about everything. One of the outstanding topics they talked about is where are babies came from. Mary wrote to Max that babies in Australia came from Beer mugs, she later asked max where babies came from in NY, Max answered, “Unfortunately, in America, babies are not found in cola cans. I asked my mother when I was four, and she said they came from eggs laid by rabbis. If you aren’t Jewish, they’re laid by Catholic nuns. If you’re an atheist, they’re laid by dirty, lonely prostitutes. “
The script is witty beyond imaginable. The different thoughts of an old man and a kid didn’t clashed but rather collaborated in discovering things. Max and Mary continue to exchange letters, offering creative solutions to each other’s problems, and contemplating the uncertainty of everyday life. Mary struggles with self-esteem issues, and is too shy to speak to her neighbor Damien, on whom she has a crush. Max wonders about the strange people he encounters, and why no one seems to understand him. Max begins to get anxiety attacks when he receives letters from Mary, and one is severe enough to land him in a psychiatric hospital. He is unable to write to Mary for eight months, and she is shocked at the unexplained loss of her friend.
Max is finally released, and writes to Mary again. He explains that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and that it causes him to see the world in a unusual way than most people. Mary is overjoyed to hear from Max again, and begins to study disorders of the mind to learn more about his condition.
Several years later, Mary is a teenager and still writing to Max. Mary’s retired father dies in an accident, and leaves his daughter enough money to pay for university. Mary majors in psychological disorders, hoping to find a cure for Max’s problem. Her crush, Damien, attends the same school, but Mary is still shy. Her mother dies a year later (from accidentally drinking embalming fluid in a drunken stupor). Mary bonds with Damien, who comforts her, and they eventually marry.
Mary conducts promising research in the field of mental disorders, and even publishes a book on the subject. She sends Max the first copy, but he is outraged and confused at the “exploitation” of his condition. He expresses his anger to Mary, who falls into a deep depression. After developing a drinking habit and enduring months of sadness, Mary loses interest in her former passions. Damien leaves her, and Mary attempts suicide. Miraculously, she is saved at the last minute by her elderly neighbor, a World War II veteran, who had recently conquered his agoraphobia.
Mary apologizes to Max, who forgives her. Her depression begins to lift, and it is revealed she is pregnant with Damien’s child.
A year later, Mary and her baby travel to New York to visit Max at long last. Mary enters Max’s apartment and finds him dead, sitting on the couch and staring up at the ceiling with a content expression. After the initial shock, Mary looks upwards and sees every letter she had written to Max, taped to the ceiling. Realizing he had died while happily looking at her letters, Mary weeps with joy and sadness for her only friend.
The ending is sad but you feel that the characters are fulfilled. The characters are lovingly crafted with so much personality. The characters emotions are shown in different montages. I must say writer-director Adam Elliot did a good job with the storyline and scenes used. The film concept are so simple but I think the way how they add different qualities to the characters stretched the storyline into somewhat interesting to film as a full length feature.
I love how they shown Max anger by simply pulling out the letter M out of his typewriter and sending it to Mary, letting her know in that gesture that “I’m mad, I don’t want to talk to you anymore”. Also the “Que sera sera” sequence wherein Mary contemplates while she decides to commit suicide. As far the whole production was designed, it is good for the film to use some simple character design to minimize the tension and sadness of the characters. The utilization of CGI at some point made some scene special, making us detached to the thought that we’re watching claymation. I love also the film noir look they used for Max and New York City and the Sepia tone for Mary and Melbourne.
MARY and MAX : casts : Toni Collette as Mary Daisy Dinkle, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Max Jerry Horowitz, Eric Bana as Damian Popodopoulos, Bethany Whitmore as Young Mary . Created and Directed by Adam Elliot. narration by Barry Humphries. The film premiered on the opening night of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film won the Annecy Cristal in June 2009 from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and Best Animated Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in November 2009.
So that’s for now guys.
So Till Then and Godbless
[Thanks to Wikipedia for helping me out with the synopsis]
As planned, Jonathan, Neil and I went to the Cine Europa 2010. Neil thought it as a way to celebrate my 23rd birthday. Actually it’s the second time for me and Neil to catch this event, if my memory serves me right we watched “The Duchess” from the same event last year.
But before we claimed our couches and enjoyed the film, there are so many bloopers happened like spending almost an hour in the line without thinking to drop by the ticket concierge to get some tix, that made Jonathan and I as one of the “chance passengers”. ; Neil got the last tix of the film, so he was able to reserve us some seats [which is by the way, so hard to find], while Jonathan, I and the rest of the “chance passengers” will have to wait for several minutes outside the theater. The concierge staff has to make sure that they’re able to accommodate all delegates and lucky peeps with tix.
To cut the story short, we ended up enjoying the simple storyline of the film, despite of missing subtitles, we’re able to grasp the whole story. The problem is we don’t know the title. It’s written only in Czech and the subtitle appeared after first 2 minutes of the film. Well, I just ended up checking the event’s poster and google it. Thus the title Is “Vratne Lahve” [Empties].
I don’t know the actors, screenwriter and director’s name but I do appreciate the film. The premise is about Josef Tkaloun, a teacher at a high school in Prague who cannot control his anger when his pupils misbehave in his poetry class. He quits his job and despite his wife urging him to retire, becomes a cycle courier. After the inevitable accident, he still refuses to stay at home and takes a job in the local supermarket. He works behind a counter, taking the used glass beer bottles and empty plastic water bottles, giving a receipt to the customers which they can redeem at the cashier. He begins to flirt with the customers and matchmake both for an old friend and for the man he works with. His own flirtations [and amusingly lurid dreams] almost get him into trouble with his wife, so he resolves to reignite the passion in his marriage by celebrating his wedding anniversary with a hot air balloon ride. As can be expected, things do not go completely to plan.
I have this two favorite plot points of the film, First is long montage of Josef, talking to her customers then later exchanges info to his workmates to boost their confidence and got matched with some of their customers, one got married and other one were dumped but got a thrilling “math lessons” every week. The second one are those scenes of the couple accidentally stuck in a hot air balloon. Josef is so calm and proud to show to her wife the green plains of Czech, telling to her wife to be calm and enjoy the scenery; at least she enjoyed something special before they die. Before this plot point happened, there a scene where Josef’s wife talks about how a male swan stays alone and loyal after it’s better half die. Then she asked Josef what he will do if she dies. While their over the green plains, wildly dragged by the winds, the wife asked Josef why he is so calm despite of being stuck on air, he only answered back “If I’m going to die, I would like to die with you” , sweet and well delivered[ you’ll be hearing some of the audiences go on awe] . Also, one of my fave funny point is while the couple we’re trapped in a hot air balloon sinking in the middle of river, both have to figure out how to ignite the engine, luckily his husband owns a lighter, thus he discovered that his wife secretly smokes . When he asked his wife why she smokes, she told him that she want to die first, she don’t want to be a widow and be the rest of the Czech women, visiting their husband graves on their late 50-60’s. And when she were asked for her basis , she just answered “Statistics”.
The plausible script and humane setting made it possible for the film to show some points of our society like being judgmental, how we assume on things, confidence vs doubt, technology and respect.
This film is very funny and moving – in a best way possible. [It’s like I’m watching a serious version of “The Community]. I like how scenes are made almost ultimately believable, as every scene and every bit of the dialog is taken from life. Everyone in the theater started laughing shortly after the beginning and continued throughout the film till the final credits. Everyone was leaving the screening with a great smile on the face, filled with pleasant thoughts.
Try to check Cine Europa 2010 if you have some free time, it’ll run until the 19th of this month. Interested? here’s the schedule of the whole run 😀
Anyway, we ended up having dinner and did some catching up, from my dad’s health, to their facial, Jonathan’s new account up to my first time to judge a school completion which by the way would be my next post [and next project..thanks to neil]
So that’s for now guys.
So Till Then and Godbless