Mary and Max is a recipe for cult status. A unique and inherently funny animation style is the foundation for a story about two isolated, lost souls who become friends from different sides of the world. It ticks all the emotional boxes someone like me needs to love a film – it’s funny, bleak, uplifting, deflating… It’s a tough spectrum to experience in ninety minutes, but I managed.
I feel like I can’t say I enjoyed Mary and Max without sounding like a hipster poser. It’s so trendy – the characters live their claustrophobic lives in a desolate and unfair world, and things show no sign of looking up. It’s this unattractiveness that’s responsible for my surprise at its high position in the Top 250, if it were to even place at all. It’s the kind of film that you would expect to alienate the average member of the public – its bleak humour and themes of loneliness accessible only by somebody with very specific sensibilities. But, here it is: #170.
Shitty and nasty and heartbreaking and bittersweet though Mary and Max is, I kind of loved it. It reminded me of reading Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket growing up. I used to shy away from austere and unpleasant stories, but there was something different about them.
That very unique type of dreary. The charming kind of shitty circumstances. The heartwarmingly unhappy ending. Whatever it was that made my favourite children’s writers great, Adam Elliot has found it, too. But for grown-ups.