Mary and Max
It is 1976, an 8-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore) is a lonely little girl living in Mount Waverley, Melbourne, Australia. Her relatively poor family cannot afford to buy her toys or nice clothing, and she is teased by children at her school due to an unfortunate birthmark on her forehead. Her father is distant and her alcoholic, kleptomaniac mother provides no support. The closest thing she has to a friend is the man for whom Mary collects mail, Len Hislop, a World War II veteran who lost his legs as a prisoner of war and has developed agoraphobia. One day, she decides to write a letter to someone living in New York City: by pure chance she chooses Max Jerry Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman) from a telephone directory. Max turns out to be a morbidly obese 44-year-old whose various mental problems (including anxiety attacks and overeating) have left him unable to form close bonds with other people. Max decides to write back to Mary, and the two become friends. Over time, Mary's increasingly sensitive questions about the adult world give Max progressively worse anxiety attacks, and he is ultimately institutionalized. During his time there, Max is diagnosed with depression and Asperger syndrome. Now aware of why he has difficulty relating to other people, Max finds a new lease on life and resumes his correspondence with Mary. The two remain friends for the next two decades, keeping one another updated on various events in their lives. Mary (Toni Colette), inspired by her friendship with Max, becomes a psychologist and marries her childhood crush, an effeminate young Greek Australian man named Damien Popodopoulos (Eric Bana) who enjoys sewing but fears Mary's sexual advances. Max wins the New York lottery, using his winnings to buy a (literal) life-time supply of chocolate and then giving the rest away to his elderly neighbor, who wastes most of it before dying and leaving the remainder to a cat shelter only to have the owner of the shelter take it all for himself. After earning her degree, Mary writes a psychological book detailing her communication with Max, in an attempt to dissect Asperger's syndrome. Max is infuriated, having told Mary that he has come to terms with his illness and sees it as an integral part of his personality, not something that needs to be diagnosed and cured. Max ends his communication with Mary, by breaking the "M" typebar from his typewriter and sending it to her. When Mary receives it, she is heartbroken and has the entire run of the book pulped, effectively ending her budding career. In her despair, Mary takes up her mother's affection for sherry. Chronically depressed and drunk all of the time, one day Mary receives a note from Damien informing her that he has left her: he has fallen in love with his own pen pal, Desmond, a sheep farmer in New Zealand. In the meantime, Max has decided to forgive Mary, and has sent her a gift as a token of his continuing friendship. Mary is so unmanned by her depression and drunkenness, though, that she is unaware of the package that has been sitting on her doorstep for several days. Ultimately, Mary discovers some Valium that had belonged to her mother, and, not knowing that she is pregnant, decides to take her own life. Just as Mary is about to kill herself, her neighbor Len knocks on her door, having conquered his agoraphobia to alert her of the package on her porch. Opening it, Mary finds Max's reconciliation gift, along with an accompanying letter detailing the reasons why he forgives her, how much their friendship means to him, and his hope that one day their lives will intersect and they will meet in person. It is enough to jar Mary from her depression, and she decides to start her life over again. One year later, Mary travels to America with her infant son to finally visit Max. Entering his apartment, Mary discovers the now elderly Max, sitting on his couch, gazing upward, having passed away peacefully earlier that morning....
Please join StudyMode to read the full document