Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Film Review: Mary & Max (Australia)

      Mary and Max is a stop motion clay animation created by Adam Elliot and released in 2009. Australian born Elliot, is also known for his animation 'Harvie Krumpet' which is also stop motion. Along with some other animated shorts he certainly has rustled up a pretty unique style. His stop motion technique most probably arised from his combined studies of painting, photography and pottery. The film's style is really interesting and I like the use of tonal environments; Mary lives in Australia and favourite colour is brown so when the animation is focusing on Mary, everything has a slightly warmer hue than when the viewing is targeted at Max. When film is interacting with Max's life, everything is more washed out and dull. This is because he leads a very monotonous lifestyle working in factories where it's the same boring routine and he doesn't socialise. The audience learn that Max has Aspergers syndrome and high anxiety which makes it harder for him to live a normal lifestyle and engage in new situations without becoming stressed. The greyscale colour scheme could also come from the fact that he lives in New York with many intimidating building that make him feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. Elliot keeps quite a morbid sense of humour about the film, there is lots of attention to detail and characters the audience have empathy for.
      Mary struggles with making friends at school in Australia, she gets bullied for the birthmark on her face that is "the colour of poo" and has a hard life at home with her alcoholic mother. When she is at the library she picks a name at random from the book to write to and hopefully make a friend. She chooses 'Max Horowitz' who lives in New York and starts to write him letters along with other miscellaneous items. When Max receives the letters he gets really nervous and starts to have a panic attack as his mental condition doesn't allow him to react normally. When he calms down he manages to write back to her. Viewers follow their journeys through the exchange of their letters, becoming strangely attached to each story and their unlikely relationship.
     I think Adam Elliot was trying to raise the awareness of many things including bullying, alcoholism, anxiety disorders and cultural differences. He did achieve this, some themes more subtle than others. The stop motion technique was definitely well put together as it runs smoothly and you can watch it with ease, very well thought out script and editing. I thought it was successful and well worth a watch! I give 3/5 stars.  

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