Home » Welcome to Marwen review – A Fascinating World of Art

Welcome to Marwen review – A Fascinating World of Art

by Ben Rolph

A new visionary film, based upon the true story of Mark Hogancamp – directed by Robert Zemeckis, who delivers a stylised-sleek feel to this inspirational story which is without a doubt one of Zemeckis’ best films in years. With a strong dose of melancholy, wonder and hope it manages to successfully bring this tale to life.

An utterly new and state-of-the-art way of combining reality with fantasy, slipping into this action figure-like world as means to escape reality and enter a new life in the town of Marwen. The film balances the two incredibly well, at points you are even left wondering is this real or not?


We follow Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who after a devastating attack forgets all his memoires, trying to grasp back to reality he begins creating a wondrous town as a way of healing, with the support of people he sees regularly. Marwen, is situated in Belgium and it is home to the women of Marwen, the Belgium Witch and himself. Nearly all of the people are based upon people Mark knows, through his making of this installation he draws strength and courage in trying to tackle the traumas of real life through his lens in this war-filled town set in World War II.

The characters who live and or attack Marwen are all created via motion capture suits, in which the actors play with tennis balls pretending to be interacting with characters. The use of CGI is rather breathtaking, utilising the ultra-reality of the action in Marwen to it’s greatest lengths – utterly stylised and some-what reminisant of ‘Toy Story’ in many ways.


The sheer contrast in reality and this less-than-desirable fantasy act as a way of showing his inner desires and nature, able to walk in heals without judgement or comment – he is a hero and Hoagie gets what he wants, eventually. This adds a strong element of hope and comfort for us as the spectator but also for Mark as an escapist way of releasing his couped up artistic talents.

Zemeckis uses a balance of showing the frantic-bombastic-war-like action to his art show and his sweet friendship with all of his friends including Nicol (Leslie Mann), Eiza Gonzalez, Gwendoline Christie, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monae and Leslie Zemeckis’ character’s. The friendship between Mark and Nicole helps ground and emotionally connect us throughout the film, as their connection blossoms simultaneously in both worlds leaving off in rather the opposite direction though.


Throughout the film there are many references, most notably the time machine that looks very similar to Back to The Future’s DeLorean, Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger) as the femme fatale, perhaps a link to the silent film ‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ (1927) in the witch-like actions to sway him her way and finally ‘Vertigo’, a certain belltower scene harks heavily back to Hitchcock’s classic.

The film has little flaws, perhaps occasionally Carell seems a little too much like his character in ‘The Office’, but we can chalk that down to loving him as the brilliant comedian he is. Nevertheless, Carell throughout delivers a rather moving-funny-contained performance as Hogancamp backed by the incredible women of Marwen and Zemeckis’ sharp direction in creating a dual-reality commenting on humanity as a whole.

4/5 Stars

Ben Rolph




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