Sunday, July 3, 2011

Aspies in the Media: Mary and Max

The other night I finally got around to watching this movie... Mary and Max, a 2009 Claymation Film directed by Adam Elliot. I'd been meaning to see this movie forever because of the Aspie protagonist, but I hadn't gotten a chance, until now. And I'm happy I did.

The movie is about a young Australian girl, Mary Dinkle, who is unhappy with the state of her life - she has a neglectful father and an alcoholic, kleptomaniac mother who tells her that she was a "mistake". She is insecure about her appearance and is very lonely. Hoping to make a new friend, she pulls the name Max Horowitz out of a phone book at the post office. It is listed that he lives in New York City, so she writes a letter to him asking about life in America, explaining how she wants a friend.

Max responds, explaining the state of his life. He is an obese older man who is sensitive to stimuli, is confused by social cues, and lives a quiet, controlled life with his goldfish Henry and his chocolate hot dogs. He doesn't have any friends, and writes to Mary that he is glad she is his friend.

While the movie progresses, more letters are exchanged, and we learn more about both Mary and Max. In one scene where Mary asks Max about how to talk to a boy she likes, Max has a meltdown, is institutionalized for many months, and it is revealed that he has Asperger's Syndrome. He expresses frustration that his psychiatrist feels sorry for him, and that he wants to "cure" him. Max expresses the belief that Asperger's is just one way of defining who he is, and that it is not a disease or disorder.

This movie is wonderful because it shows the importance of friendship and connection, even by society's so-called "freaks". While parts of this film are very depressing, the film itself has a beautiful message of connection and friendship. The visuals are very well done - Max's world is gray, Mary's is beige, and they are connected by little pieces of red. Max's bluntless and Mary's silly questions make this an enjoyable and amusing film, combining black humor and a bittersweet story to make for a flawless, rich experience that I'm sure everyone will be able to connect to. Mary and Max is certainly a must-see.

Here is a trailer:


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