“You are imperfect, and so am I” – Mary & Max (2008)

Written by Yara

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Are you in need of something to warm your heart in this cold cruel world? Do you crave for something as sweet as condensed milk sweeten your life? Did you know that dark humor might bring light to the unsettling questions of existence?

Mary, a eight-year-old girl from Australia, has “eyes the color of muddy puddles. Her birthmark, the color of poo.” Max is a forty-four-year-old New Yorker that smells like licorice and old books. After seeing his address in the post office, she decides to write him a letter to find out where babies come from in America. What follows is a 20-year improbable friendship that will certainly warm your heart. Based in a true story, “Mary & Max” is a sweet tale about two people from different parts of the world, with different goals and issues but with the same troubled soul.

Besides this quite peculiar plot, Mary & Max has a very charming style of clay animation with the characters’ features accentuated in a ludicrous manner, which contributes to the whole dark humor atmosphere. I am fascinated by stop-motion; I believe it to be the hardest form of animation and cinematographic production as whole. In this movie, the attention to detail is exquisite! From the textures, to the embroidered names, from lashes to tiles and wallpaper, everything is carved with milimetric precision.

Still focusing on the visual aspects of the movie, the two main characters have their own colour pallet, while Mary’s is composed of sepia tones; Max’s is built in dull shades of grey. When they exchange gifts, it’s interesting to see these two aesthetics mixing showing the passage of time and the deep connection between the two characters. These two environments also have their own beautiful soundtrack that reflects the atmosphere and the personalities of each character.

In spite of being sweet and absolutely adorable, this animation is not targeted to the child audience, the humor is acid and the script tackles subjects such as depression, suicide, anxiety, alcoholism, social phobia, among others; still, they do it in a tasteful and non-romanticized manner, which I deeply appreciate. It is very easy to like and empathize with the two main characters, their struggle is relatable and it’s portrayed in a rather realistic manner.

In the end, Mary and Max is a lovely story about life’s ups and downs and how facing these issues with a good and understandable friend Is much easier.

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