Ashbourne News Telegraph - - WHAT’S ON -

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.

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