A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mary and Max

Yes, they do make movies Down Under.

I had never watched an Australian movie before. Even if I have done, I had no idea about its originality. I haven't seen the Nicole Kidman-starrer Australia, and I haven't seen the legendary Crocodile Dundee either.

The first one I saw was Mary and Max, referred to me by the same friend who had recommended Gake no ue no Ponyo.

As it's typical with films named Mary and Max, this movie was based on two characters called Mary and Max. In case you're genuinely interested in the full names, they were called Mary Daisy Dinkle and Max Jerry Horowitz.

Only that the movie took off with Max as a 44-year old, and Mary, well, as an "8 years old, 3 months and 9 days." Mary was from a suburb near Melbourne, and Max was from, well, New York City. And since this was in 1976, they could correspond only through snail mail.

And thus took off one of those movies that would turn your emotions inside out over a period of an hour and more. It reaches the extremes of your interiors, grapples out your insides using an invisible hook and churns them with some serious intent.

Yes, Mary and Max is an animated movie. And no, Mary and Max was not intended for children, though it does deal with questions like whether sheep shrink when it rains - questions that don't necessarily strike the polluted grown-up brains.

But it's a movie largely aimed at adults. You see, Max is actually diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome: the reason being that he found the world very confusing and chaotic - because his mind was more literal and logical than usual. This is, well, termed as a disease, and remains the foundation on which a major part of the movie is based.

There are moments when you feel like crying. Crying your heart out. To vent out your emotions. And in moments like these you can relate to Max: "I wish I could cry properly." Adam Elliott would make you feel like crying your heart out, but would not let you to: he shall leave your emotions there, inside you, all bottled-up and made you feel suffocated.

The movie is dark. Very dark. Seldom have movies dared at being intelligent and humourous at the same time and pulled things off successfully; and this is one of the elite few. It looks for humour within life: in Max's past jobs and in Mary's neighbours, in Max's food habits and in Mary's birthmark, in Max's eccentricities and in Mary's isolation. You'd smile. You'd laugh. And at the same time, you'd feel a hollow inside you that you'd desperately want to get rid of.

That's often the thing about laughing back at life: you cannot carry it off successfully without your insides being scorched severely. And that's what Mary and Max is mostly about. It takes a stab at the darkest aspects of life, including depression, loneliness, betrayal and even death, and still manages to make you smile.

Then there is the beautiful use of colours: Mary's world is in sepia and full of features, while Max has a solid, abstract black-and-white world. The contrast is spectacular, and keeps the audience guessing whether they would merge at some point of time. Till the end.

Elliott has been brilliant throughout: it's amazing how many times I've moved from a bright smile to the most morose of inaudible shrieks throughout the movie. The shifts have been fast, comfortable and smooth - something you crave to see in movies, but rarely do. You're laughing at Max, the next moment you are Max himself, and feel that desperate urge to cry out loud, but cannot. You're awwwww-ing at Mary one moment, at the very next you feel like rushing to the other end of the world to be with her.

We're Mary. We're Max. We all are. We all smile as brightly as Mary, and choke up in emotions like Max. And in the end, we're all as empty and hollow as them, craving desperately for that elusive soulmate, who is possibly residing thousands of miles apart.

Watch the movie, folks. You've never watched anything like this.


PS: I know it could have avoided the "que sera sera" bit: but even Bradman scored  a duck, so even the greatest of them make those minor errors. Especially them Australians.


PS2: And just in case you're wondering about the commentary Vera was listening to, there wasn't a 1976 Ashes.


PS3: If you watch the movie and cannot relate to one or both of Mary and Max, do let me know. I'd cross you off my friends' list on my messengers, Orkut (as if it matters any more) and Facebook.


PS4: Well, in case you cannot obtain a legal (or illegal) version of the movie, just let me know. I might help.


  1. Awesome movie, and whatever you have jotted down is so true and perfect as well.

    PS: (I have no qualm in saying that) my place is safe in your messengers, Orkut and Facebook.

    PSS: I pity them who are like Damien.

    PSSS: <3 this post. And, hey! thanks! for the movie!!

  2. bhishoN bishoNNO, bhishoN sundor. tomar lekhatao khub bhalo hoyechhe.

  3. movie'ta dekhar jonye khub curious hoye porlam thik'i.... tobe ultimately kobe dekhe uthte parbo janina :(

  4. thinking if claymation had an ulterior end, than amplifyin the hidden pain.
    thanks abi.
    explore more *<8)

  5. Found the movie online and watched it. You really have portrayed everything so well. I went through the same emotions, but am not good enough with words to write something like this.

    Have you ever considered being a film critic as a profession?

  6. Thanks for letting me know about this movie..I love the post.. you are a good critic..