Welcome to Marwen (2018)
Welcome to Marwen tells the true story of Mark Hogancamp, an upstate New York artist who was beaten to within an inch of his life by thugs. He spent nine days in a coma after the attack and forty days in the hospital. The memory of his life before the attack was gone and he couldn’t afford therapy. So, he built a one-sixth scale World War II-era Belgian town in his yard and populated it with dolls to represent his attackers and friends.
This film means well, it really does. It just never comes together. The nicely rendered animation as an allegory for Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) recovery isn’t very subtle or clever. And when the eureka moment finally arrives, it isn’t all that clear what the film is trying to say. The reference to Robert Zemeckis’s popular time travel movie was also unneeded, even a little crass to include in a film like this.
The performances are decent, but the screenplay dragged. This was a two-hour long movie (it felt much longer), but it could easily have lost thirty minutes. There just wasn’t enough story to tell, so each scene is squeezed for every last drop of sentiment. It’s also very predictable, so you’ll have to be patient with the characters until they finally figure everything out.
As a film exploring PTSD, this isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, and the animated sections feel a little gimmicky. The Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger) character was interesting, but what she represents is immediately apparent. The conclusions reached in regards to her character felt sloppy, even potentially dangerous, and were either badly researched and/or poorly developed.
With so many better options at the theater this holiday season, I say skip this one and wait for it to appear on your favorite streaming service.
Starring: Steve Carell, Falk Hentschel, Matt O’Leary, Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, Eiza González
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by: Robert Zemeckis, Caroline Thompson
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 1 hr 56 min.