Title – Welcome to Marwen (2018)
Director – Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Cast – Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Eiza González, Merritt Wever, Gwendoline Christie, Janelle Monáe, Diane Kruger
Plot – Based on the true story of artist and assault victim Mark Hogancamp (Carell), who retreats into a doll filled fantasy version of World War 2 in the wake of his life changing attack.
“I’ve built a place where I can heal”
Review by Eddie on 18/07/2019
One of Hollywood’s most esteemed directors, and for good reason, we have now entered into a sad phase of Robert Zemeckis’s career where we have no idea what type of film we will be getting from the man responsible for such gems as Forrest Gump, Back to the Future or Cast Away.
It’s a Jekyll and Hyde scenario, one that leans more towards Hyde since the early 2000’s, with Zemeckis unable to restrain himself from trying out risky propositions, in films that have leaned more towards visual boundary pushing rather than good old fashioned story-telling or character development.
Since the joys of Cast Away in 2000, Zemeckis has delivered such forgettable outings as The Polar Express (a motion capture experiment), Beowulf and A Christmas Carol (ditto for CGI experiments) and hard dramas Flight, The Walk and Allied, with only Flight offering any real truly redeeming qualities in the memorability stakes, thanks largely to Denzel Washington’s impressive lead turn, with Zemeckis’s newest CGI/Drama experiment Welcome to Marwen one of his most terrifying misfires yet.
Based on the seriously good 2010 documentary Marwencol, that examined the life of traumatized artist Mark Hogancamp and his artistic endeavors after a life changing and violent attack, Marwen’s ambition comes from a good place and one that seems ripe for exploring but with Zemeckis struggling to work off a script he developed alongside Caroline Thompson that uneasily balances Mark’s doll-centric imagination with an incredibly bland real life arc around it, Marwen is sadly deserving of many of the critical blasting’s it got given upon its dire box office run over the Christmas period.
Nothing feels natural or earned here, Mark as played by the Oscar seeking Steve Carell is a hard person to fully engage with while his Nazi filled doll world is mostly just cringeworthy, even if some of the CGI work is impressive in a forgettable way, while the less said about Mark’s generic love interests and friendships that pop up in the real world courtesy of Leslie Mann’s Nicol and Merritt Wever’s kindly hobby store manager Roberta the better.
For a story dealing with trauma, love, loss and art, Marwen fails to inspire much in any of its facets, Zemeckis unable to transplant any of his many years of experience into a dull and dry tale that was crying out for some type of spark, with Carell in particular feeling somewhat miscast in another one of his softly spoken and rather lifeless dramatic portrayals that are starting to wear a little thin based on current form.
Another hugely annoying component of the oddball Marwen is the insistent and grating score from the very talented Alan Silvestri.
Having worked with Zemeckis before to great results in the likes of Forrest Gump and Cast Away, Silvestri’s off-putting musical cues and overly chaotic music doesn’t help the films causes in any way shape or form and when things are supposed to be touching or moving, the score will no doubt take you right out of the moment, disallowing the film any slight chance it had of connecting on an emotional level.
Final Say –
There’s some interesting questions asked in Welcome to Marwen but don’t expect to have any of them answered in Zemeckis’s messy and misguided outing. A frequently odd hybrid, you’re far better of tracking down a copy of doco Marwencol than investing two hours of your life into this misfire.
1 ½ pairs of high-heels out of 5
thank you! i am going to see if our library has the documentary! 🙂 love your blog.
Hopefully they do, it may be a little hard to find but well worth tracking down.
found it! thanks again for the recommendation!
I just watched this one this week, and while I wouldn’t have rated it as low as you did, I agree with your general summary. It wasn’t a complete waste of time but it left me feeling flat.
I found it had potential to be something very special, but didn’t have the emotional connection at all.
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