Welcome to Marwen (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 56min | Biography, Comedy, Drama | 21 December 2018 (USA)
Synopsis: A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.
Review: – Grant Vogel – Steve Carell once again proves his capability and range in a dramatic role as the real-life, hate crime victim, Mark Hogancamp, in Robert Zemeckis’ “Welcome to Marwen.”
His previous dramatic roles include: “Foxcatcher” in 2014 (which earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 87th Academy Awards), “The Big Short” in 2015 (where he was nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy), “Battle of the Sexes” in 2017, and most recently, “Beautiful Boy” in 2018.
Perhaps the reason why he can be so convincing in these dramas is because of his background in comedy. It seems to be a trend for most comedic actors these days to become more comfortable in dramatic roles than comedic as there are only so many things a comedian can do in a film to make people laugh because of today’s social and political climate. Carell himself had this to say in regards to his shift to more dramatic roles, “It’s not like I want to put sunshine and lollipops into the world. But I do believe there’s been a turn toward an uber-cynical point of view, and it’s borderline mean.”
That being said, the film itself, “Welcome to Marwen” isn’t anything too special as much as people had hoped it to be. The trailers had made the film look to have a very refreshing and unique take on mental health, hate crimes, and PTSD. But upon viewing the finished product, it is ultimately a disappointment.
The plot centers around a man, Mark Hogancamp, who once was a very talented artist until he was nearly beaten to death by a neonazi and his gang at a bar. The assault rendered Mark unable to draw anything anymore with his hands, made him forget all of his personal memories and relationships, and gave him PTSD and social anxiety. Now he lives by himself where he takes pictures of his dolls (he modeled after the empowering women he met through his recovery) in the miniature World War II Belgian village he created, called Marwen. The men who assaulted him are on trial for what they did to him years ago. As the sentencing phase of the trial begins, Mark doesn’t know if he can handle going. In addition, he is establishing a relationship with his new neighbor named Nicol (Leslie Mann) whom he is very socially awkward around.
There are too many plot developments going on to make a very cohesive story. And as one plotline is established, a previous one doesn’t get resolved. Mark had a previous friend or lover (we never find out who she really was) who the village of Marwen was named after (Mar- for Mark and -wen for Wendy). Nicol has a despicable ex-boyfriend who is verbally abusive to Mark and actively stalks Nicol throughout the film. We never get to see what happens to him. Mark eventually does go to the trial but we never get to see what happens to his attackers. Most of the film revolves around Mark’s depressing but very creative life. The glimpses into his mind through the CGI action scenes of the ladies of Marwen and Mark in his doll form, are by far the most entertaining aspects of the film.
Although the scenes in Marwen are very imaginative, there isn’t a solid storyline in the entire movie to follow. But if the events that occured in the film are an accurate representation of the real Mark Hogancamp’s life, then I applaud Zemeckis’ efforts for adapting the story to a film and giving this kind, artistic man the spotlight. But I would then ask him, why did he make it so depressing and unpleasing to watch.
It isn’t a bad film at all. But just doesn’t pull through with all of its flaws and depressing storyline.