Buried Treasures: Mary And Max (2009)

on Sunday, January 30, 2011
Buried Treasures is a column dedicated to things we feel have gone underappreciated, often both critically and commercially. We encourage you to seek these treasures out and hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

We're extremely grateful to have this guest post from Vicki Isitt, who contributes to a number of blogs including our pals HeyUGuys, as well as running her own blog.

Words: Vicki Isitt

Director: Adam Elliot
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana

Every time I put my 'Mary And Max' DVD in and the introducing theme music starts up I feel as though I’m being hugged. The music just envelopes you and the tone is warm, fun, simple and most importantly, has heart. A perfect fit for the film.

'Mary And Max' is a heartwarming animation about two people’s pen pal friendship and every-one’s desire to be accepted and loved. It follows the lives of two people of completely different ages, on different sides of the world, connecting in a strength of friendship most of us wish we could have.

Mary (Toni Collette) is an 8 year old girl from a small suburban town in Australia with eyes the colour of muddy puddles and a birthmark and colour of poo, while Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a 44 year old Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in New York City. One day in the post office Mary picks at random someone to write to in New York, so she can find out where babies come from in America, and a few days later, Max receives her letter.

With the first part of the film set in the 70s, and concept of Asperger’s syndrome had yet to be established, all everyone knows is that Max is different from them - and being different means being excluded. Mary is also different. Her mother drinks too much and her father ignores her and she gets teased at school. Both Mary and Max love watching 'The Noblets' on TV because they have oodles of friends, and that’s something they can only dream of.

'Mary And Max' is the most beautiful and powerful story about friendship I have ever viewed. It has humour, sadness, anticipation, friendship, and love. At any moment I felt like anything could happen and I don’t believe anyone could have predicted how the film turned out, which is exactly how life should be. Our want, our desire for acceptance and love is ongoing and never ending and it doesn’t matter who you are, you will find this film engaging, heart warming, and exceptional.

Since seeing 'Mary And Max' in October, I feel as though I’ve been campaigning for its awareness. The claymation is superb, the acting is brilliant, the direction is fantastic, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the script is sheer genius, the film is perfection. It was my number one film of 2010, and quite possibility my favourite film *ever*, yet some people have never heard of it.

With such a limited distribution in the UK (and most of the world) it’s not surprising people haven’t heard of it, and considering it's an animated film dealing with issues like death, love, acceptance and disabilities that doesn’t even end with a happily ever after, I can understand why it struggled to get more money behind its marketing and distribution.

However, 'Mary And Max' is one of the most underappreciated films I have ever had the utter pleasure of viewing. If you have ever felt lonely, excluded, left out, sad, unloved, or that sometimes people just don’t understand you, this is the film for you.

STREAM: Perpetuum Mobile by PenguinCafe

'Mary And Max' finally emerged on DVD in the UK this week and is available to purchase from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

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