12th Apr2019

‘Welcome to Marwen’ Blu-ray Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Steve Carell, Eiza González, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Janelle Monáe | Written by Caroline Thompson, Robert Zemeckis | Directed by Robert Zemeckis


Robert Zemeckis’ recent cinematic entities have entailed one single word if anything else is “mediocre”. The one-time directing king of spectacle with Cast Away, Back to the Future, Forrest Gump etc., has, in the last decade, delivered slog after slog in the likes of underwhelming pictures in Allied, Beowulf, Flight, The Walk and now Welcome to Marwen. A living breathing tragedy of a film if ever you’re unfortunate to witness one develop in front of your eyes. Zemeckis latest is a masterclass of how to convey every sense of the phrase “tone-deaf” into the medium of film. An absolute disaster from start to finish with one of the most truly painful performances I’ve had to endure in Steve Carell in his constant need for attention in the dramatic sense of performance.

Similar to Tim Burton, another 80s master of his craft, it has become seemingly obvious that Robert Zemeckis is coming to the end in terms of what he can add to the ever-evolving canon of film. Nothing has felt rich or fresh in almost two decades of a promising filmography that offers plenty in regard to originality. I can see why Zemeckis would be partial to this story – it has every element for an original director to play with both narratively and visually, however they see fit; and still make an engaging film with the source material outrageously captivating. Yet, what is ever so obvious in the film’s opening first act is that Zemeckis never quite confirms to his audience, or presumably himself, what his plans actually are. The result is this horrible tone deaf and emancipated film that evokes a sense of disturbance rather than poignancy it is so dearly trying to execute.

The writing on offer in the screenplay by both Caroline Thompson and Robert Zemeckis is exceptionally idle and dull. You’re left with a premise that ultimately promises you five strong women that surround Marwen, but aside from one specific character, you’re left reeling with what their purpose actually serves, aside from all being excessively overly sexualised objects that the film plays for laughs and evokes seriously tone deaf misogynistic overtones. Made equally as problematic as they’re continuously reinforced in a multitude of offensive remarks and played for jokes. The writing, in general, is so hollow in the sense that it doesn’t want to explore itself. It peaks its head out in certain intervals but disappears almost immediately, and what makes this even more so frustrating is the character of Mark Hogancamp aka Marwen aka Hoagie has a significantly tender story with personality, depth and touching layers that are simply not explored and that is attacked with incredibly brash and poorly crafted humour.

Steve Carrell gives a criminally self-congratulatory central performance that in a decade’s time will be the definition of cringeworthy. Think of a melding of his performances as Michael Scott in The Office and Brick Tamland in The Anchorman and you’ve got one hell of a disaster, what did Robert Downey Jr. famously state as Kurt Lazarus in Tropic Thunder? It’s terribly executed and undeniably tone deaf with its approach. It’s far too comical and the strong overly conscious uses of dramatic flair only reinforce that long-standing prejudice that he wants that Academy Award more now than ever, but after this, dare i say he may have set his sights back a decade of more waiting in the wings for that evasive golden statuette. And to cap of the terrible proceedings, Zemeckis has the audacity to include a certain irrelevant and bizarre cameo into the films that is so self-aware and self-indulgent I’d walk out of this disaster if I ever had the chance to use this horrible inappropriate plot device in real life.

Blu-ray Bonus Features include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Marwen’s Citizens
  • Building Marwen
  • Living Dolls

Welcome to Marwen is out on Blu-ray and DVD (in the US) now. The film is released in the UK on May 13th.


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