This is a wonderful animation based on a real life pen pal relationship between Australian youngster Mary (she is about eight years old when she first writes to a random person in New York) and forty-four-year-old asperger’s syndrome sufferer Max (the random person). An unlikely bond forms between them; as Mary’s bullying at school and the neglect of her parents strikes a chord with Max’s chronic isolation and difficulty with relating to the world. Their relationship continues over the years and becomes one of the most defining aspects of each of their lives.
It’s beautifully told – the artwork manages to be unique, somewhat warped, and yet stops just short enough of being grotesque to pull off endearing. And the voice work from Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Max and both Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collette as Mary is just perfect. Be warned though, the film is sad from the beginning right through to the end.