I’ve been really busy this week (again). Firstly, due to being short staffed at work, I ended up back in my old post in the school’s first aid station for a few hours each day and I’m SO GLAD that I applied last November for the database manager job I currently do. My life has changed significantly in the last year, now that I am doing a job that concentrates on something I really enjoy, and don’t have the demands of students on me all the time. It is really draining trying to work when you are constantly being interrupted, sometimes by quite demanding situations.
I also went climbing during the week, off to another Governor-meet-parents thing on Thursday, and then on Friday night had a whale of a time meeting up with the youth workers I used to work with (before we all got made redundant in 2009). Friday night’s 1am finish was probably a contributing factor to me sleeping in until noon both today and yesterday.
I haven’t had time to read anything this week, but I thought I would have time to squeeze in the 88 minute DVD that LoveFilm sent me, really a long time ago now, as recommended by Kate at lookingglassblog.
Mary and Max is the story of an 8 year old Australian girl and her penfriend, 44 year old New Yorker, Max. They are both lonely for different reasons. Mary’s mother is an alcoholic and her father is absent in spirit. Max sees the world in a different way from most other people and is being treated by a psychiatrist regarding his troubles.
The film starts in a rather beautiful way and you are not sure where it is going to go because it seems rather shapeless. You are introduced in a very unhurried way to these two characters, and this works because each scene is animated in detail, and the narrative is very deadpan and random but at the same time tells you a lot about the characters, takes you right into their strange worlds, while also being hilarious. For example, Max describes the time he did jury service and just as it was getting interesting, with a case where a man murdered all his friends at his surprise party, Max is rejected from serving because someone finds out that he has spent time in a mental institution.
Likewise, Mary writes, “My mum says I am getting fat. She says I am growing up to be a heffer, which I think is a kind of cow.”
I laughed out loud at both these moments and Lovely Daughter #2 came across to see what was so funny and watched the rest of the film with me.
It’s clear that Max sees the world significantly differently from most people. I did wonder how they film would handle the (over?) sensitivity that we have these days regarding adults and children sharing friendship. And actually, the film didn’t shy away from this topic at all. Max’s lack of understanding does lead to some laugh out loud moments of inappropriateness, but his good intentions are always so clear that it just makes you wish that we didn’t have that suspiciousness in our society that we have grown so used to.
It’s no surprise when Max diagnosed with Asperger’s half way through the film. Max is adamant that he does not see himself as someone with a disability and that he does not want others to either. He does not want to be cured (there is some vague talk in the film of a future cure one day coming into being), because being “Aspie” is part of who he is. This made me think of several blogs I follow, and individuals I know, wondering how they would feel about a cure to change them. I would guess that in most cases, a cure would not be welcome.
The rest of the film sees Mary and Max battling their demons and their pasts, the stories intersecting beautifully, and there are some genuine edge-of-seat moments in the film as they come close to despair.
I was hoping for an uplift after A Tale for the Time Being. While Mary and Max was a tear jerker (at several points), I came away with a positive message: on facing your fears, and on letting others be who they want to be.
This was such a good film! Thank you, Kate, for your recommendation.