WELCOME TO MARWEN (12A)
INSPIRED by a remarkable true story, which was sensitively captured in the 2010 documentary Marwencol, director Robert Zemeckis’s heart-warming yarn of self-rediscovery fails to connect on any emotional level.
A surfeit of flashy digital trickery, which magically brings to life an adult man’s toy box of lifelike plastic dolls, overwhelms character development and hampers dramatic momentum.
The misfiring script co-written by Caroline Thompson unspools in real and imagined worlds, the latter providing a safe space where the victim of a horrific attack can piece together fragments of his shattered psyche.
Tears should flow freely, especially with Steve Carell cast in the anguished lead role, but there is barely a trickle of saltwater during two disjointed and curiously underwhelming hours.
Mark Hogancamp (Carell) is brutally assaulted outside a bar by five thugs, who take exception to the lovable loner drunkenly confessing his penchant for wearing women’s high-heeled shoes. A barrage of sickening blows results in massive brain trauma.
In order to rebuild his life, he constructs a miniature Second
World War village called Marwen in his backyard, which is populated with dolls that look uncannily like friends and neighbours.
The five attackers are portrayed as vicious Nazi officers while Mark adopts the guise of a swaggering American GI not dissimilar to Action Man. Mark re-enacts murky episodes from his past in the hand-made village so he can face the unrepentant attackers in court and confront his demons.
The script lacks an obvious emotional crescendo – even the pivotal courtroom showdown is overrun with special effects.