When we first saw a trailer for Welcome to Marwen from director Robert Zemeckis starring Steve Carell as a plastic doll we were intrigued, but to then find there was a lot more to it we were sold.
The Film is based on a documentary and book called Marwencol from Mark Hogancamp, the character Steve plays in the film.
Welcome to Marwen is based on the true story of how artist Mark, after being beaten and left for dead by a group of thugs for admitting he likes to wear women’s shoes, slowly rebuilds his life using plastic soldiers and his imagination, as well as a close but supportive group of friends wanting the best for him.
The beating he took was so severe he lost most of his memory, this includes memories from his personal life such as being married in the past and possibly worse for him, he has lost his ability to draw, having been a very good artist before.
The film opens with Mark in plastic soldier form, in what we think must be a dream, but is more his inner thoughts. It soon becomes clear that he is suffering from PTSD from the attack.
His plastic soldier self is set upon by Nazis, however, in this dream state, the women of Marwen save him. These women were those that he has become attached to in his life, these being Roberta (Merritt Wever) who runs the model shop he gets his soldiers from; Anna (Gwendoline Christie) his support worker; Julie (Janelle Monae) who helped him in the hospital after the attack; Carlala (Eiza Gonzalez) who he works with and Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis) his favourite actress.
We then learn that unable to draw anymore, Mark has created the fictional world of his imagination. A world war II village he has called Marwen. In this alternate world, Mark now uses the dolls to create realistic photos of situations making him an acclaimed photographer, who is about to be featured in an art gallery.
The film centres on this opening as it coincides with the run-up to the court case were Mark’s attackers are to be sentenced and the arrival of a new neighbour, Nicol (Leslie Mann) that will help him face them.
For the attackers to receive the maximum sentences, Mark will need to face them in court where the jury and judge can see this was a hate crime and not just a simple bar attack, which they will testify was in response to a previous drink problem he had.
Thanks to Mark imagining a romance with Nicol and defeating scenarios he constantly imagines, he may be able to do this but you will need to see the film to see how.
This film was like nothing we had seen before, Carell’s performance is nothing short of incredible. As readers of the book, he has captured Mark so well, you will feel for him and want to protect him as your heart will break as we see him relive the attack, particularly in a confrontation with Nicol’s nasty ex Kurt (Neil Jackson) and the aftermath where he will develop feelings for her.
The film is not with faults, we wish we had more of Mark’s story than the plastic soldier world scenarios but it is a unique film with a great story to tell so we would happily recommend it.
Watch the trailer here:
You can already pre-order the film at Amazon here:
We found the Marwencol book on eBay but again you can find it at Amazon here:
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