Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Film reviews - Mary and Max (2009) - Adam Elliot)

Here's one that's right up my street, an award winning Animation shown at the 2009 Sundance film festival that indulges into a world that is somewhat cute in stylistic appearance yet contradicts itself via steriotypically grotesque notions, yet never straying too far from the heartwarming moral of the story itself. This Animation uses the same style as found in Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run, for example. It uses real models to produce claymation (one stop motion animation) as its main technique to well executed effect. It is writer and director Adam Elliot's mind that conveys this film as a depiction that follows up to the Oscar Award Winning film "Hervey Krumpet".

 The film follows two main characters with relatively unhappy lives, who become unlikely pen pals that constructs a friendship that lasts for years. The question is, will they ever meet? It begins where 8 year old Mary Dinkle writes a letter including a bar of chocolate to a random person in the Manhattan phone directory (I wouldn't advise any 8 year old to try this) which to her suprise they reply whole heartedly. As Mary lives with her alcoholic Mother and her "busy" Father, this outlet seems nowhere near as bad as the chaos of her deteriorating family, so to feel a friendly presence soothes her keeping her positive and stops her feeling alone in the world.Max on the other hand is a lonely, forty year old over weight man from New York who often suffers from anxiety attacks.

You could say there is a hint of some sadistic peodiphilic notion, that there is a young child talking to a random stranger thus this creates a feeling of tension and an undertone of social disposition to the audience. You could say that the questions Mary asks Max, the fact that Max responds to her so frequently, could be a sign that an older man is feeding of the vunerability of a young child. However as the animation goes on this seedy tension becomes unapparent as the characters begin to grow onto the audience and they begin to further realise these two lonely individuals, no matter the age gap, just enjoy making sure each other are able to feel better about themselfs. In many respects, this tone of respect and human moral is not only touching but says a lot about true innocence and how it is hard to come by. They discover they can learn a lot from one another which as a result continues the longing to keep contact, nobody can understand Max better than a child anyway as he suffers from Aspergers syndrome so is always seen as different.

 These differences however cause the film to take turns on itself, where it becomes almost jolting to watch at times as the tone changes so frequently and sudden. It does this by showing how the two characters lives are from a personal level, for example flying into the world of Max's Aspergers syndrome, which not only teaches you about the condition but makes you unsure whether your supposed to laugh at or with Max, or if you are supposed to laugh at all. The film is clever at making you feel great opposites, comfort to uncomfort, joy to sadness, it could be described as a pulling and pushing the audience. The colour schemes used within this animation help to convey the dull tone of feeling alone, or like your in a dark place, clinging onto a hope that keeps ones life with a meaning for exsistance. To encourage this, Adam uses very monochromatic colour schemes, with the occassional hint of brighter hues where neccesary to fit the mood of the characters or where the story is headed. There is a decent voice cast used within this animation and the music choices go hand in hand with the imagery used to back up the characters and the action that unfolds around them.

Overall a funny film with some dark undertones that manages to swiftly sway between light hearted and beautiful touching displays that transcend into anxious parallels to its own innocence. The only down side to this film would be the mid section of the film slightly drags on for too long, however it doesn't distract away too much from the main point. Good film, good laugh, yet sad and thought provoking.


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