“Welcome to Marwen” beautifully portrays an inspirational, true story


From IMDb

Riley Murphy

With a cigarette hanging from his lips, a camera in his hand, and his truck rolling alongside him, we automatically fall in love with the likeable persona of Mark Hogancamp (played by Steve Carell). Told through his eyes and the eyes of his dolls, “Welcome to Marwen” depicts the life of Mark after recovering from a brutal beating that can only be described as a hate crime.

Fast forward three years and Mark is left with nothing. After months of rehab he is left with shattered memories and no recollection of his past except for his World War 2 drawings and some pictures of family. Now he can barely write his name.

Due to Mark suffering from the PTSD of his attack, he uses dolls and figurines to create the town of Marwen and photograph his characters’ lives which serves as a form of therapy to him and a way to cope and deal with his pain.

Enter: Hoggie.

The swashbuckling, lady charmer that becomes the ideal hero of the story and the hero of the town of Marwen. Hoggie resembles Mark physically, but the two could not be more different as Mark starts to feel more and more isolated and Hoggie finds true love.

And while this may sound like an odd way for the producers and directors to tell this particular story it’s actually not a story at all. In fact “Welcome to Marwen” is based on Mark Hogancamp’s real-life journey of his brutal beating and the form of art he took to make a new life for himself.

While the story itself already makes you want to give Mark a big hug, what really brings the entire film together is Carell’s phenomenal acting. Most commonly known for his role as Michael Scott in “The Office” or as the voice of Gru in “Despicable Me,” Carell is usually playing the role of the comedian.

Yet I think this has been Carell’s best role yet. While, in the end, it may not turn out as popular as his franchise films it offers more to the average inspirational story.

Instead of the actors and actresses telling the story, the town of Marwen is the story. Each doll Mark creates represents a person in his life whom he cares about. For instance his Russian caretaker who helps him cope with his PTSD is portrayed as a fighter doll with a feisty spirit and stone-cold attitude.

With all of these characters I was left trying to unravel Mark’s train of thought and how he created such an imaginative world from his broken memories.

On the surface “Welcome to Marwen” might just seem like an ordinary inspirational story with a couple of heart throb moments, but after watching it I found myself picking up on all the symbolism there was.

For instance one of the dolls in his story, Deja Thoris (voiced by Diane Kruger), represents Mark’s addiction. Due to his time spent in the hospital going through therapy and surgeries, Mark was left with an addiction to pain killers. Throughout the entirety of the plot, Deja Thoris is seen controlling Mark’s life and constantly whispering in his ear coaxing him to take more pills to numb his pain.

Although it isn’t the most complex form of symbolism (it being pretty obvious because Deja’s hair is the same color as the pills), it still adds to the overall plot. Mark, through the help of his close friends, decides he doesn’t t want to live with his addiction and decides to face his fears.

In fact there is one specific friend that helps Mark the most. Nicol (played by Leslie Mann) is the new neighbor that moves in across the street and becomes Mark’s new love interest.

Which leads me to my main and only problem with the film: it didn’t need a love interest. Although it was sweet, I felt like the producers should’ve focused more on Mark’s personal journey and how he individually found the courage to face his inner demons.

At times, Nicol’s character seemed a little ditsy and bubbly and not at all compatible with the theme of the story. This lead to some awkward scenes and overall not a great performance.

With loveable characters based on an inspirational true story, there’s no reason why audiences shouldn’t fall in love with “Welcome to Marwen.”