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‘Memoir of a Snail’ Review: Adam Elliot Spins a Series of Unfortunate Events Into a Stop-Motion Heart-Tugger

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Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic Calling all amateur malacologists: With “Memoir of a Snail,” stop-motion director Adam Elliot (an Oscar winner for “Harvie Krumpet”) invites us to study snails of every shape and size, starting with a gastropod-hoarding outcast named Gracie Pudel (pronounced “puddle”), who withdrew from the world after an unhappy childhood in which she was bullied and orphaned and shipped off to Canberra to be raised by a pair of negligent swingers.

Fitting squarely on the shelf of grownup films about misfit kids, Elliot’s latest — which comes 15 years after Sundance opener “Mary and Max” — finds the Australian auteur deeply committed to his dark and surprisingly moving brand of storytelling.

Like Edward Gorey, his palette is nearly monochromatic; his characters tend to face the camera, à la Wes Anderson, as if posing for gloomy school photos; and his John Waters-esque humor is irreverent enough to encompass everything from disabilities to weird sexual kinks (including a homeless judge fired for masturbating in court and an adipophile who fattens up his bride with milkshakes and microwave sausages).

Elliot’s characters may be kids, but his audience isn’t meant to be in a film that has poignant things to say about mental health. “Dad used to say that childhood was like being drunk.

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