WELCOME TO MARWEN (12)
D: Robert Zemeckis
Universal/Dreamworks/Perfect World/Imagemovers (Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey & Jack Rapke)
W: Caroline Thompson & Robert Zemeckis
DP: C. Kim Miles
Ed: Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Steve Carell (Mark Hogancamp), Leslie Mann (Nicol), Merritt Weaver (Roberta), Diane Kruger (Deja Thoris), Janelle Monae (Julie)
Welcome To Marwen received some harsh criticism upon its release, and while it isn't a great film, it's something which I would consider as a noble failure. Mostly because it takes serious subject matter and presents it in an inventive way, and Robert Zemeckis has never been a colour-by-numbers director, frequently directing with a novel approach to material.
That being said, this is still (probably) Zemeckis' weakest film, taking its basis from a documentary called Marwencol (also called Village of the Dolls in the U.K.) and the true story of Mark Hogancamp, an artist who suffered great mental trauma following an assault, leaving him without memory and unable to continue his desired profession. However, he overcame this by creating a model village of a Belgian town during wartime, using dolls as representations of himself & people in his life, which he would photograph for exhibition.
The film juxtaposes his real-life struggles with the fantasy element which takes place in the WWII town. and from a technical point of view, the film is incredibly well made. Unfortunately, it's thematically where the film struggles. As a drama it's far too goofy, as a comedy it's too serious, as a fantasy it's too grounded, and as a wartime adventure it's too depressing... and the plot is pretty much Steve Carell playing with dolls. Still, I'm quite forgiving since it did make me think about it a while after the end credits rolled, and was quite a difficult film to review due to this.
Personally, I'd much rather see a brave attempt from a famous director and a big studio than a play-it-safe movie aimed at the lowest common denomination of moviegoer.