This is recovery like you’ve never seen it before! Steve Carell’s character faces his trauma with dolls and photography in ‘Welcome to Marwen,’ a truly one-of-a-kind film!
Everyone heals from trauma differently, and Mark Hogancamp finds his own unique road to recovery in Welcome to Marwen. The former artist, played by Steve Carell, 56, was on the brink of death after being assaulted by a group of men for saying he liked wearing women’s shoes. Although he recovered physically from the attack with the help of therapy, Mark lost all of his memories, including his ability to draw, and turned to photography to pass the time. Specifically, he took photos of Marwen, a fantasy European town he’d created full of dolls — including a World War II captain named Hogie who looked remarkably like him. He even wore heels on occasion!
The doll, though, had a brave, fearless personality, while Mark himself rarely left his home — and his art — unless he was buying more supplies for his mini town or working in a local bar with friends. With handwritten signs all over his house reminding him to turn the coffee machine off and only take one pill a day, Mark was very unlike his imaginary solider. Because of that, he turned to Hogie whenever he became too overwhelmed to face the real world. Whether he was facing his attackers in court or startled by loud noises, Mark found comfort in letting his heroic doll take over. He lived through him, as well as the six female sidekicks he created, all modeled after women in his life.
The women in Marwen ranged from Mark’s favorite pornographic actress and his friend from physical therapy to his caretaker and the woman who owned the hobby shop down the street. There was even a doll modeled after his addiction, a witch named Deja Thoris played by Diane Kruger, 42, who encouraged Mark to take more pills and find solace in more and more medication.
The newest doll in his collection was modeled after his neighbor Nicol, played by Leslie Mann, 46. As he developed a friendship with her, he dove deeper into his imagination — and their fake relationship. Mark’s virtual reality began to bleed into his real one at this point, when what he really needed to do was face what had happened to him. With his lawyer urging him to speak against his attackers in court and his friends asking him to attend a gallery opening of his work, Mark was faced with multiple opportunities to move on. They were daunting, but they were there!
But with Deja dragging Mark down in his imaginary world, and his PTSD wearing on him in reality, the battle to overcome his trauma was a rough one — and it was played out in two worlds. Watching the WWII action alongside his real-life trials was doubly powerful, and unlike anything audiences have ever seen before. Through these simultaneous realities, the movie, which was based on a true story, was able to deliver an extremely moving, unique way of looking at trauma recovery.
Welcome to Marwen hits theaters on Friday, Dec. 21. The one-of-a-kind film is truly a must-see!