After my mistake in the opening post of the global film challenge (which I later edited out) of including Australia as the country for The Piano rather than New Zealand I have been seeking an Ozzie film to watch. After receiving a lot of suggestions from the iCheckMovies forums I went with a film that continues my recent run of animations; Mary and Max.
Title: Mary and Max
Director: Adam Elliot
I have long said to other film-buffs that animation is the most versatile method to produce films. I am glad that since Pixar first unveiled Toy Story back in 1995 that the world outside of Japan has really started to take animated features a whole lot more seriously. Note: this is me generalizing since I know that serious shorts and a few serious features had been produced before then.
Mary and Max is a rather serious film that perfects the balancing act between the comic and the tragic. Both of the titular characters are incredibly vulnerable people. Max, a 44-year old obese man living in New York who gets diagnosed with Asperger syndrome later in live. Mary, an 8 year old Australian with an alcoholic mother and self-confidence issues. At times heart-warming and other times heart-breaking this story of an co-dependant penpalship is not something that would have been exercised as well in the live-action form.
This is completely down to the distinctively grey style of claymation used by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot (who was the first person to openly thank a same-sex partner during his 2004 acceptance speech… and as such is a new hero of mine). If you are into animated shorts it is very likely you will have seen Harvie Krumpet. If not click on the link and watch it. It’s okay I’ll wait.
So now you see what I mean about the balancing act between comedy and tragedy in Adam Elliot’s films?
The fact that Mary and Max didn’t make it to the nominations for Best Animated Feature at the 2009 Oscars is a real shame. It was apparently a strong year for animated features and although I disagree with The Princess and The Frog having a place in the roster over this… well we all know money is a big Oscar motivator don’t we. Even if it was nominated Mary and Max would have still had Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline to contend with (also The Secret of Kells with is an odd coincidence). But hey, maybe the Academy just aren’t ready for a film about a man dealing with Asperger’s (*cough* Rain Man *cough*).