This film is based around 2 different characters, each inhabiting their own distinctive world. Mary Dingle, an 8 year old Australian girl described by the Narrator in shades of brown, lives in a world of low saturation browns and greys, with the exception of the red lipstick worn by her uncaring mother. Max Horovitz, a 30-something New Yorker with Aspergers syndrome, lives in a world of cold greys. Almost the only time a bright colour enters Max's world is when Mary sends him a red pom-pom, which he wears on top of his yarmulke; this splash of red becoming as indication of the status of Mary and Max's friendship, disappearing after Mary accidentally offends Max, reappearing when he finally accepts her apology. Interestingly however, there is another element of crossover between the two worlds, in the form of the letters that Max and Mary send each other - Mary's letters are invariably handwritten on brown paper, while Max's are typed on light grey paper.
Story-wise, Mary and Max is about an unlikely long distance friendship, and charts the way their friendship changes both of their lives, both for good and bad. Indeed, the film is notable for being at least as interested in the low points of Mary and Max's lives as it is in the highs. At first, these lows are treated with black humour - the deaths of Mary's parents, for example, are offset by the epitaphs on their tombstones, while the tragic fates of Max's pet goldfish become a running gag. Later lows are played straight, emphasising the tragedy.
The animation is stop-motion claymation, and the camera is animated as well, rather being relatively static. This is particularly evident in the sequences where the animation and editing is matched to the music in the background; for example when Max types his first letter to Mary (set to the "typewriter symphony") and Mary's suicide attempt (set to a melancholy version of "Que Sera, Sera"). The film's limited colour palette helps to emphasise the care that has been taken on the animation, particularly the facial expressions (Film4, 2009).
Film 1: Mary and Max - Musical Typewriter (2009)
Film 2: Mary's suicide (Mary and Max) (2010)
Film 1: Mary and Max - Musical Typewriter (2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-aN6Kd6ynY (Accessed on 28/02/2012)
Film 2: Mary's suicide (Mary and Max) (2010) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq17zxmTMY8 (Accessed on 28/02/2012)
Film4 (2009) Mary & Max (2009) At: http://www.film4.com/reviews/2009/mary-max (Accessed on 24/02/2012)
Parkinson, D (2010) Mary and Max At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=136981&page=2 (Accessed on 15/02/2012)
Pulver, A (2010) Mary and Max - Review At: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/21/mary-and-max-review (Accessed on 12/02/2012)