“We don’t get to choose our warts. They are a part of us and we get to live with them. We can however, choose our friends.”
There are things that are beautiful because they let you see what is good in this world. And then there is that other kind of beauty; the kind that shows you the broken and the lonely and the painful things. What’s really best of all is when the two kinds mesh together, and you know you’re looking at something that is not only beautiful but sublime.
Well, that third kind is precisely how I’ve felt watching Mary and Max.
The story starts in 1976 with eight-year old Mary Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collette), a lonely girl with eyes the color of muddy puddles and a birthmark on her forehead the color of poo. She lives with an alcoholic-slash-kleptomaniac mother and a father who attaches strings to tea bags at work, and would rather spend his free time with his dead birds than with her. Desperately wanting for a friend, she picks a random address from an American address book and writes that person a letter. This person happens to be the forty-four year old Max Horowitz.
Max (voiced by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is a Jew living in a New York City apartment with his fish, some snails, a parakeet, and a one-eyed cat. At 352 lbs, he is trying to lose weight and attends his Overeaters Anonymous class during Thursdays. Because of his Asperger’s Syndrome, he finds people very confusing. He especially finds it difficult dealing with nonverbal cues and facial expressions. His anxiety is triggered by street litterers and anything new and stressful, Mary’s letter included.
I am very much in awe with writer, designer, and director Adam Elliot for bringing to us such a poignant tale of friendship and acceptance. Aside from the story, the movie is visually beautiful. Oh really, kudos to the animation team! The performances of the voice artists are equally flawless as well.
And this should be said: it is funny almost to a fault. You don’t always see themes such as mental illness, suicide, atheism, bullying, alcoholism and homosexuality among others tackled in this playful manner. But in spite (or perhaps because) of it, its depth is made only clearer to our jaded adult minds.
Perhaps this movie is not for everyone. But give it a try. The worst you could get is a genuine slice of life. And well, a recipe for chocolate hot-dog.