REVIEW: Welcome to Marwen

Welcome to Marwen, starring Steve Carell, was a film that I was eager to see. Based on the trailer (which you can watch here), Carell stars as Mark Hogancamp, a man who suffers a tragic accident and uses his art to cope. The trailer led audiences to believe that he was perhaps a war vet, and that the trauma he’s dealing with is the result of a hate crime.

The film itself, from director Robert Zemeckis, is quite stunning with incredible animation work. The plot is a little less articulate. The biggest questions and surprises in the film include, Why Hogancamp was attacked, What was his life like before the attack, and What’s with his favorite movie?

Welcome to Marwen tries to do a lot and include all these frayed storylines in just a couple hours, but most of them do not get resolved, let alone addressed after they’re introduced. For example, all the dolls are named and portrayed in the image of someone real – including Suzette who was inspired by Hogancamp’s favorite actress in his favorite film. A porn. It seems as though his favorite movie is just the last tape left in his VCR, and since his memory was “beat out of him” he doesn’t realize that there are other films in the world. Ones that aren’t pornographic. Was the movie trying to suggest that this character, based on a real person, has severe and long-term brain damage in addition to his PTSD? Also, was he a soldier?

While there is definitely inspirational moments and this is a story of triumph, Welcome to Marwen sure does leave the audience with many unanswered questions. That said, it’s not a bad film. The action and animation was truly incredible. Be prepared for an abundance of gun violence and Nazis, but very little blood (they’re dolls after all).

So slip on your best stilettos and catch Welcome to Marwen in theaters December 21st.

Welcome to Marwen

When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery. Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic. As he builds an astonishing art installation—a testament to the most powerful women he knows—through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one. Welcome to Marwen also stars Leslie Mann, Gwendoline Christie, Janelle Monáe, and Merritt Wever.

— Yael Tygiel