21 December 2018 | roblesar99
Makes You Want To Watch The Documentary It Was Based On Instead
Before I saw WELCOME TO MARWEN, I saw a tweet calling it "Zemeckis' VERTIGO." Although I scoffed at the idea, after viewing it, I realized that it held some merit, with one of the female characters, played by Merritt Wever, eerily inhabiting a very similar role to that of Barbara Bel Geddes. There are some interesting ideas on display throughout the film that mirror themes found in VERTIGO, as both focus on men attempting to move past a traumatic experience. However, the men in both films elect to move past this trauma by shaping the females around them in their own desired image. It worked in VERTIGO, but 60 years removed from that film, such a premise seems tone-deaf to say the least. Furthermore, Zemeckis' latest film will no doubt serve as further evidence for the group of critics that peg him as a filmmaker primarily interested in the latest special effects rather than one primarily interested in telling a story. Zemeckis seems like an odd choice to helm this film, as he never opts for a subtle, tender approach to telling the story of Steve Carrell's Mark Hogancamp, who was assaulted by a group of white supremacists. Instead, Zemeckis opts to place the film's visual effects at the forefront, and electing to focus on shootouts and explosions rather than a more nuanced exploration of Hogancamp's fragile psychological state. That the film also revels in some more obvious instances of male "gaziness" when it shows some of the animated female doll figures topless is worthy of an eye-roll, to say the least.
That being said, I truly do think that Steve Carrell delivers a better performance here than most will give him credit for. When the script, written by Zemeckis and Caroline Thompson, isn't actively attempting to display the film's special effects (or having Carrell deliver some truly awful lines about the "essence of a woman"), Carrell does at least attempt to understand the struggles that his character's real-life counterpart underwent after the assault. The majority of the cast (even Leslie Mann, whose character unfortunately follows the manic pixie dream girl stereotype) also delivers some solid work, especially the aforementioned Wever. That being said, watching WELCOME TO MARWEN left me thinking that this was a story that didn't necessarily need to be made into a film, especially when a critically-acclaimed documentary about Hogancamp himself named MARWENCOL already exists.