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30. Mary and Max (2009), dir. Adam Elliot

I spent yesterday afternoon asleep on the sofa, recovering from a busy week and a busy term. But today I came over all functional and sociable, and spent the afternoon in the balcony of the Hyde Park Picture House instead, watching a stop-motion animated film called Mary and Max with ms_siobhan and planet_andy.

It's an absolutely lovely film - very sweet and touching, but with lots of humour too. It tells the story of an eight-year-old Australian girl called Mary with an alcoholic mother and a birthmark who gets teased at school, and an American man in his forties who has Asperger's syndrome, likes eating chocolate hot-dogs, and finds the world very confuzzling. They become penfriends after she picks his name at random out of a phone-book, and bond over their shared love of chocolate and lack of other friends. Gradually, albeit with a few twists and turns, they become the most important people in each others' lives - even though they never quite manage to meet.

The humour reminded me quite a lot of Roald Dahl's stories, in that it focuses on the icky, the idiosyncratic and the downright dark. But while Dahl invites us to be quite judgemental about his nasty or dysfunctional characters (think of the Twits, or all the families other than Charlie's in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), this film encouraged us to sympathise with them. The portrayal of Mary and her family reminded me quite a lot of Muriel and her family in the film Muriel's Wedding, too - and not just because the central character in both was played by Toni Collette. I guess there must be quite a strong tradition in Australia of bittersweet humour about empty suburban lifestyles.

I don't know how easy it'll be to get to see this film now, as I'm not sure how wide a release it has had outside of Australia. But I'd definitely recommend it if you get the chance. And if you don't weep uncontrollably at the end, then you are made of sterner stuff than me.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ms_siobhan
Dec. 12th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
It was such a beautiful bittersweet poignant film - easily one of the best films I have seen in a long long time.

I especially enjoyed the end of the mime artist and all the other sad but funny bits - I'd have hated to be a goldfish in that world.

Mr Pops had a lump in his throat at the end too and in spite of my best efforts a tear or two escaped my eye as well.

It'll be weep-a-gogo on Wednesday as well.....
strange_complex
Dec. 12th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, those poor goldfish! I think if I had been watching it on my own I would have been absolutely bawling my eyes out at the end. It was only being in public that made me restrain myself. Let's hope I can manage not to embarrass myself too much on Wednesday, too!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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