Mary and Max is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops over 20 years between an 8 year old misfit living in Australia and her penpal, a middle-aged New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. You know within the first few moments that this is not going to be your average claymation film when Mary Dinkle looks out to see two little dogs mating and the voiceover reflects her innocence, “Mary wished she had a friend to play piggybacks with.”
Written, Directed and Designed by Adam Elliot and Produced by Melanie Coombs, the film features the voices of Toni Colette and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The animation is dulled down and the effect enables the viewer to feel as though it is a live action film. Adam Elliot’s Melbourne is a dull brown while New York is animated in shades of black and white. But it is the characters that bring the film to life. Elliot states on his website, “I truly empathise with the lost and disregarded, marginalised and melancholic. I am drawn to these people and their stories; I cannot help it. I find people so fascinating, from the ordinary to the truly odd. These are the people I relate to; these are the people whose stories I want to hear and want to see on the big screen.”
Mary is often puzzled. especially by her heavy-smoking and hard-drinking kleptomaniac mother and the mean kids on the playground. On the other side of the world, Max Horowitz is also puzzled by littering, people’s facial expressions and the mysterious deaths of all of his goldfish.
One day Mary happens upon an American telephone book. She decides to write to a random American and ask them where babies come from. Max and Mary find they share a love of chocolates and unusual queries like, Do you like the word kumquat?” and “If a taxi drives backwards, does the driver owe you money?” But perhaps the thing they have most in common is the desperate need for a friend.