In 1976, eight-year-old Mary Sissy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore) lives a lonesome life in Mount Waverley, Australia. At college, she is teased by her classmates as a result of an unfavorable birthmark on her forehead; while at home, her remote father, Noel, in order to alcoholic, kleptomaniac mommy, Vera, provide little support. Her only conveniences are her pet rooster, Ethel; her much-loved food, sweetened condensed milk; and a Smurfs-like cartoon show called The Noblets. One day, while at the post workplace suffering from her mommy, Mary finds a New york city City telephone book and, becoming curious concerning Americans, chooses to compose to one. She arbitrarily chooses Max Jerry Horowitz's name from the telephone directory and creates him a letter informing him concerning herself, writing it off in the hope that he will certainly become her pen buddy.
Max Jerry Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a morbidly obese 44-year-old ex-Jewish atheist that has problem developing close bonds suffering from other people, because of numerous mental and social issues. Though Mary's letter initially provides him an anxiety attack, he chooses to compose back to her, as well as the two quickly come to be buddies (partly due to their shared love of chocolate in order to The Noblets). Due to Vera's disapproval of Max, Mary informs him to send his letters to her agoraphobic neighbor, Len Hislop, whose mail she gathers frequently. When Mary later asks Max about love, he endures an extreme anxiety attack in order to is institutionalised for eight months. After his release, he is hesitant to create to Mary once again for time. On his 48th birthday, he wins the New york city lotto game, utilizing his payouts to buy a life time supply of delicious chocolate and also a whole collection of Noblet porcelain figurines. He provides the rest of his money to his elderly neighbor Ivy, that utilizes a lot of it to indulge herself before dying in a crash suffering from a malfunctioning jet pack. At the same time, Mary becomes despondent, assuming Max has actually deserted her.
On the suggestions of his specialist, Max lastly composes back to Mary as well as clarifies he has actually been identified experiencing Asperger syndrome. Mary is thrilled to hear from him once more, and also both proceed their correspondence for the next a number of years. When Noel retires from his work at a tea bag manufacturing facility, he takes up steel discovering, but is quickly brushed up away (in order to most likely killed) by a huge tidal bore while on a beach. Mary (Toni Colette) goes to college and has her birthmark surgically removed, and also establishes a crush on her Greek Australian neighbor, Damien Popodopoulos (Eric Bana). Drunk in order to guilt-ridden over her hubby's death, Vera unintentionally kills herself after she consumes embalming liquid (which she misinterpreted for food preparation sherry). Mary and also Damien grow more detailed following Vera's fatality in order to are later on married.
Motivated by her relationship suffering from Max, Mary research studies psychology at college, creating her doctoral argumentation on Asperger disorder suffering from Max as her guinea pig. She intends to have her dissertation published as a book; but when Max receives a duplicate from her, he is irritated that she has taken advantage of his condition, which he sees as an indispensable component of his personality and also not a disability that should be treated. He breaks off communication experiencing Mary (by eliminating the letter "M" from his typewriter), who, sad, has the entire run of her publication coagulated, effectively finishing her budding career. She sinks into depression and also begins consuming alcohol cooking sherry, as her mother had done. While searching through a closet, she discovers a can of condensed milk, as well as sends it to Max as an apology. She examines the article daily for a response and also someday discovers a note from Damien, educating her that he has left her for his very own pen close friend, Desmond, a lamb farmer in New Zealand.
At the same time, after an occurrence where he almost chokes a homeless male (Ian "Molly" Meldrum) in temper, after tossing an utilized cigarette, Max recognizes Mary is an imperfect human being, like himself, and also sends her a bundle containing his Noblet porcelain figurine collection as an indication of forgiveness. Mary, however, has sunken right into despair after Damien's separation, as well as cannot find the package deal on her front door for a number of days. Discovering some Valium that had actually belonged to her mother, and not aware that she is expectant with Damien's youngster, Mary makes a decision to dedicate suicide. As she takes the Valium and is on the brink of hanging herself, Len knocks on her door, having actually dominated his agoraphobia to signal her of Max's package deal. Inside, she finds the Noblet figurines and a letter from Max, in which he informs her of his realization that they are not excellent and also shares his mercy. He likewise specifies how much their friendship means to him, and that he hopes their paths will cross one day.
One year later, Mary takes a trip to New York suffering from her infant child to lastly see Max. Entering his apartment or condo, Mary finds Max on his sofa, staring upwards with a smile on his face, having actually died earlier that early morning. Checking out the house, Mary is captivated to discover all the letters she had actually sent to Max for many years, laminated in order to taped to the ceiling. Recognizing Max had actually been gazing at the letters when he died, and seeing just how much he had valued their friendship, Mary weeps splits of delight and joins him on the couch.
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