Mary and Max

  • Movie
  • By Adam Elliot
  • Reviewed by Kit

The following are out of 5

Racial Representation: 1

LGBTQ+ Representation: 4

Disability Representation: 5

Body Size Representation: 5

Gender Representation: 5

Socioeconomic Representation: 4

Mental Health Representation: 5

Religious Representation: 4

Own Voice: No

The story of Mary and Max begins when Mary, a lonely, unpopular Australian little girl, desperate for companionship impulsively writes to a random address, putting her in contact with Max an autistic American middle-aged man. This leads to a years-long, highly-unusual and deep pen pal relationship that hilariously and poignantly touches on all manner of subjects from agoraphobia, to religion, to children’s tv. I loved just about everything about this film though I’ll specifically focus on Max’s character (based on an autistic friend of the director). To start with Philip Seymour Huffman utterly nailed the distinctive autistic voice. Despite the fact that Max has several severe symptoms that stop him from living a conventional adult life (and briefly get him institutionalised) he’s never infantilised by the narrative unlike just about very other autistic adult character I’ve seen. He even gives Mary some unexpectedly good advice and gives emotional support that the other adults in Mary’s life can’t give. There are parts where Max’s quirks and struggles to understand the world are played for comedy but so are the various foibles of every other cast member. When the possibility of a “cure” is brought up Max is furious at the idea that she should be forced to change to fit some arbitrary norm. Despite his isolated lifestyle and frequent struggles he eventually makes peace with his erratic life. He’s also culturally Jewish and later becomes an atheist which is very casually depicted as well and briefly mentions being asexual.

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