Sunday, July 26, 2009

SFJFF: Mary and Max

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Castro Theater
Sat, Jul 25 9:45pm
Mary and Max
2008 | Australia, USA | color | 92 min
Director: Adam Elliot

Last night I went to the late-night screening of Mary & Max, presented by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival at the Castro Theater. It was introduced by Program Coordinator Joshua Moore, who called it one of his favorites of the festival.

I was drawn to this program to see a claymation feature. However, the actual animation is quite minimal. The story is told entirely in voice-overs, so no dialog syncing was required. It's unusual to see a character walk, & there is often only one movement in a scene. Instead, the movie is carried by its droll story & dilapidated visual design. Max is a middle aged man with Asperger's Syndrome living in New York. He develops a long-distance relationship with a similarly lonely & misfit school girl in Australia. With its mix of odd-ball characters, scatological humor, cartoonish deaths & sentimentality, I would call it Roald Dahl meets 84 Charing Cross Road.

The humor of the movie is pleasingly demented & often dark, & I laughed out loud frequently. I won't be able to get the chocolate hot dogs or the sudden death of a street mime out of my head any time soon. I was only sorry that the story got a bit pat & sentimental as it drew to a close. I'm afraid I knew exactly what Mary was going to find when she got out of that New York taxicab at the end.

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