Adam Elliot is an Australian independent stop-motion animation director and writer. He is best known for his animated shorts Harvie Krumpet, Uncle, Cousin and Brother and of course the feature length film Mary and Max. The very stylized aesthetic to Mary and Max is similar to all of Elliot's other work using his consistent black and white theme and very facially aged and deformed characters. Although the film has subtle humor splashed around throughout, it also has a bleak undertone which is emphasized by his choice of the black and white palette in max's scenes and shown also through the theme of death which is circulated around the storyline frequently with the deaths of Mary's Grandfather, Father, Mother and Max's Neighbor. The film stars Australian comedian Barry Humphries as the Narrator who is best known for his on-stage alter ego as Dame Edna Everage, late American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman as Max, Australian actress and musician Toni Collette as Mary and Australian/American actor Eric Bana as Damian.
The story revolves around the lives of Mary an 8 year old girl from Australia unable to find friends and Max a morbidly obese 44 year old suffering from Aspergers syndrome. The film gives an insight on both their lives and shows how they change as a result of their unlikely friendship through sending each other letters. The story also introduces the odd and unfortunate lives of other characters in both their settings such as Damian - Mary's crush from across the street, Len Hislop - Mary's agoraphobic neighbor, Noel and Vera Dinkle - Mary's obsessive father and alcoholic mother and Ivy - Max's partially blind neighbor.
I think through this film Elliot is attempting to demonstrate the futility and fastpased nature of life in order to as a result promote valuing relationships with people and making the most frienships. In the film a theme of desolation ran through, almost every character was alone in one form or the other and as a result had their own way of dealing with it. Mary's mother used alcohol to fill the gap in her life, her father used his obsession with his dead birds, even Ivy Max's neighbor used making him soup on Sundays as a way to feel less alone. However, Elliot used the protagonists Max and Mary to show that even at your lowest point in life, a true and loving friend has the ability to create meaning to your existence and fill the void that loneliness and depression creates. The warm soundtrack that usually changes when Mary is onscreen brings a happy vibe to contrast from the dull, bleak and grey coloured visuals and the concept of having black and white in Max's scenes and a slight sepia colour for Mary's works very well, it acts as a visual depiction that Mary brought colour into Max's life. I feel the film achieved its aim perfectly because all aspects of it, the visuals, sound and so on tie into this theme and authenticate it giving the viewer a warm sensation of appreciation for their friendship at the end. I would recommend this film solely so that the audience can also feel satisfying warm feeling also.