Mary & Max Blu-ray Review - -

Feature 9.0
Video 8.0
Audio 9.0
Special Features 8.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Icon
Running Time:
Jamie Kirk
Classification: R18+


Mary & Max

Crying at some plasticine seems rather odd. In fact it probably isnít even on the list of things that bring people to tears when thought about. Perhaps a frustrated artist might, or a kid who isnít having a fun play time. But watching Mary and Max will almost definitely bring about these results. Adam Elliot, the director of Harvie Krumpet, has brought us a tale so real and a friendship so touching that most viewers wonít even realise they were so deeply moved by two blobs of plasticine until a good while after watching.

The main character of the film is Mary (Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collete), she is a chubby 8 year old girl from Australia with an odd father and an alcoholic mother. She is picked on in school, has low self esteem and her best friend is her pet rooster Ethel. After reading a phone book from New York she decides to write a letter to one of the residents in hopes of becoming friends. The person who she writes to is Max (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), an overweight male in his 40ís that suffers from Asperger syndrome. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and begin sending each other various pieces of advice and gifts, and the two begin to encounter increased happiness in their life as a result of this. The story of their friendship occurs over twenty years and sees many tragic turns and arguments, until it builds to its stunningly moving conclusion.

Mary and Max is a beautifully written character study. The characters, although incredibly eccentric in some ways, feel like some of the most real characters to grace the silver screen in years. Their struggles with their inner demons are wonderfully laid bare in their respective letters to each other. Yet the reading of the letters by both characters never feels like needless exposition. Each fact that is relayed plays an integral role in either the story or the character development and the two main characters are joined by a supporting cast that is at times wonderfully quirky and at others horribly tragic. These characters also help flesh out Mary and Max, and reveal why they act like they do. The story itself is incredibly well told, one would think that an exchange of letters would quickly get boring but Mary and Max never once sinks into the uninteresting. The way the relationship unfolds is a sight to behold and is equally as funny as it is sad. The movie contains many touches of humour, some much darker than others, but none of it feels forced. Most of the humour comes from the characters personalities and their reactions to the world around them. Yet while the movie is definitely funny, it is also a sad tale. Depression, alcoholism and even suicide are all touched upon which means that Mary and Max is definitely not a childrenís film, despite its cutesy claymation look. Despite the many tear jerking moments, it is not a depressing film, instead it celebrates the life of the two characters and their long lasting friendship, and it is this underlying positivity that gives the film some of its most satisfyingly moving pay offs.

The film looks beautiful too, all the more so in Blu-Ray format. It is clear that a lot of effort was put into the making of this film and it shows throughout. From the humorous character models, to the sly visual jokes to the beautiful settings, the film has more than enough charm in looks alone, which makes it all the more pleasantly surprising that its story is able to match such engaging visuals.

The Blu-Ray is also packed with special features. The major one is a feature length commentary from writer and director Adam Elliot, where he delves into the making of the film. Elliot is a laid back commentator who has many amusing observations about both the visual and written aspects of the film. It is definitely worth checking out.  Animatics and deleted scenes are also included, as well as two alternate endings, that are very short and donít fit as well as the original. There is also a bunch of webisodes concerned with the making of the film. Of particular interest are Eric Banaís one, where he hilariously tells the audience why he is doing the film, and the one concerning the runner which is also highly amusing.

So get set to rewrite that list, because crying at plasticine has never seemed more appropriate. Mary and Max is a great film, and shouldnít be written off because it is a stop motion feature. We are blessed with characters deeper than most live action films, a well told story and a lovely looking world to top it all off. In addition to a great film, the Blu-Ray has been decked out with some great special features that add to the package as a whole. Mary and Max deserves to be watched by anyone that declares themselves a film fan.


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