Welcome to Marwen
by Crystal Yakel-Kuntz
Welcome to Marwen invites us to the creative world of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell). This fictionalized WWII Belgian town holds all that is most dear to Hogancamp. His friends of past and present including Roberta (Merritt Wever), Carlala (Eiza Gonzalez), Julie (Janelle Monáe), and Nicol (Leslie Mann). Each of Mark’s friends brings their own tenacity and charm to their relationship with Mark. In Hogancamp’s fictional world his friends call him Captain Hoagie, an American soldier tasked with protecting Marwen alongside the women of the Belgian town. Marwen is from the imagination of Mark and comes to physical fruition through curated doll scale miniatures. Hogancamp uses these miniatures and his dolls to bring his creations to life in full action scenes of danger. Captain Hoagie and the Women of Marwen must save each other from the Nazis.
As the characters and beauty of the world of Marwen come to life through CGI, Marwen elegantly oscillates between its fiction and the non-fiction world of Hogancamp. As the film provides exposition of its characters, it becomes quite clear that Marwen is not only a spectre for Hogan’s art, but is a processing space to work through a very serious and complicated trauma.
For what Welcome to Marwen lacks in subtle direction and script writing with such a unique story and the charm of its female cast. Specifically, actress Merritt Wever’s (Roberta) performance of a complicated role of friend, caregiver, and admirer of Hogancamp offers tenacity alongside grace. Although the script inhibits powerful performances, it is still enjoyable to see Steve Carell performing and continuing the refinement of his craft.
Welcome to Marwen is out in theaters December 25th.