Penpalling & Letters

Friday, 12 February 2010

Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is a 2009 stopmotion claymation feature film directed and written by Adam Elliot.

In the mid-1970's, a homely, friendless Australian girl picks a name out of a Manhattan phonebook and writes to him. She includes a chocolate bar. She's Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight year-old girl living in Mount Waverley, a suburb of Melbourne (Australia), and the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted father. He's Max Horowitz, forty-four years-old, overweight, atheistic Jewish man with Asperger Syndrome living alone in the chaos of New York City and subject to anxiety attacks. He writes back, with chocolate, and thus begins a 20-year correspondence, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and a few misunderstandings. Mary falls in love with a neighbour, saves money to have a birthmark removed and deals with loss. Max has a friendship with a neighbour, tries to control his weight, and finally gets the dream job. Will the two ever meet face to face?

Like Harvie Krumpet (2003), Mary and Max is innocent but not naïve, as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, religious difference, agoraphobia and much more

The film takes place from 1976 to 1994 and its central focus are the letters shared between Mary and Max (from the ages of 8 to 26 and 44 to 62, respectively) and the stories behind their life and the lives of people around them. Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, Mary and Max's penfriendship survives much more than the average diet of life's ups and downs.

The film states in the opening credits that it is based on a true story. In an interview given in April, 2009, writer-director Adam Elliot clarified that the character of Max was inspired by "a penfriend in New York who I've been writing to for over twenty years.”

[Information taken from The Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia]


  1. Wow, that sounds like a really touching story! Let me add it to my 2-c-list! :) Have you seen it yourself yet?

  2. I had the same thought you had when first reading about this movie! Haven't seen it yet, but it is first in my list after the move! ;)