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“Women are the saviours of the world!” exclaims Hogie, an action-man figure flanked by a bevy of machine gun-wielding plastic dolls. The avatar of artist Mark Hogancamp, Hogie is a US soldier who protects the fictional Belgian town of Marwen from Nazi attacks. Hogancamp (played by a simpering Steve Carrell) created Marwen after a head trauma sustained from a homophobic attack left him without memories; taking photos of the elaborate tableaus he’d staged with figurines became a form of art therapy.
Based on a fascinating true story (as seen in the 2010 documentary Marwencol), Robert Zemeckis’s misjudged drama animates these tableaux using motion-capture CGI, which, frankly, looks horrible. The characters have Barbie-like proportions, visible joints, hypersexual outfits and stiff doll bodies, but their faces are creepy digital imaginings of the actors, features smoothed out and plasticised. Zemeckis has tried this technique before (The Polar Express, Beowulf); it remains ugly.
The live-action narrative isn’t any prettier; each of Hogancamp’s dolls is revealed to be based on a woman from his life, the latest being new neighbour Nicol (Leslie Mann, who at least brings some human warmth to the proceedings). The film fetishises female strength, but only in its ability to prop up men; its women remain prettified empty shells.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Welcome to Marwen review – misjudged doll drama | Drama films