mon 20/05/2019

Welcome to Marwen review - Carell and Zemeckis fail to hit stride | reviews, news & interviews

Welcome to Marwen review - Carell and Zemeckis fail to hit stride

Welcome to Marwen review - Carell and Zemeckis fail to hit stride

Nuanced performances fail to make up for a disappointing script

In the proverbial melting pot, this film has all the right ingredients. Steve Carell, playing aspiring artist Mark Hogancamp and occupying a similar space and place as Tom Hanks did in Forrest Gump, even shares that film’s director here, Robert Zemeckis. Based on the award-winning documentary Marwencol from 2010, Marwen, it transpires, is a made-up town occupied by toy dolls and Mark’s vivid imagination. Back in the real world, Steve has already been busy on the promo trail here in London (and indeed across the globe) selling his new wares, but more of that shortly.

Carell is well-cast and well-meaning in the role of a flawed and emotionally frail photographer. After being brutally beaten up in a bar, he retreats to Marwencol to take shots of his plastic dreams away from the real cruel world, but somehow the film is less than the sum of its parts. And when those (doll) parts include Janelle Monae, Diane Kruger and Leslie Mann as his new neighbour, that’s a real shame. Because despite such a promising premise, Welcome to Marwen’s puzzle pieces don’t always click.Steve Carell and Janelle Monae in Welcome to MarwenCarell often gets to the heart of the matter with his portrait of a vet with a penchant for women’s shoes, while Janelle in particular is a bona fide knockout, both in the flesh and as a doll: her film career is clearly just getting started. Equally, Carell’s infatuation for his neighbour Colleen Vargo (Mann) is a part that’s handled sensitively and with grace under pressure. True to form, Zemeckis’s film is often a joy to behold – Carell walking along the road with his toys in a truck is one memory that particularly holds – but the climax is undeniably disappointing, with a script and editing that’s too disjointed; it needed a lighter touch. Which is strange, because Who Framed Roger Rabbit did this masterfully all those years ago with Zemeckis at the helm.  

Not that Universal agrees. “It’s a very well-crafted film, but it’s a difficult story to tell,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s domestic distribution chief of Marwen’s disappointing American box office this week. “It might take time for audiences to discover it.” And if that’s not an understatement for a film which might, if it’s lucky, find a cult audience on Netflix in the future, we don’t know what is. 

True to form, Zemeckis’s film is often a joy to behold - but the climax is undeniably disappointing

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters