Robert Zemeckis‘s Welcome to Marwen (Universal, 11.21) looks, sounds and feels like a genuinely cool and interesting way to dramatize the gulf between everyday humanist compassion and the forces of hate speech and wall-building — essentially Donald Trump‘s red-hat culture. It uses what looks like fluid, go-motion, next-generation animation as a way to delve into an unfortunate real-life reality, but with a story that ultimately leads upwards. A semi-animated film that, holy of holies and glory of glories, is not primarily aimed at the family trade.
Will the Academy classify Welcome to Marwen as an animated film? Probably, but it looks like a half-and-halfer. Or, put more generously, its own bird. It seems to have something in common with Charlie Kaufman‘s Anamalisa (’15) in that it’s aimed at the over-15 crowd.
Will the Academy classify it as an animated film? You tell me. It’s obviously a bit of a marketing challenge to sell a movie with this title. Not insurmountable but a challenge. “Marwen” is an imaginary town in New Jersey? Somewhere near Fort Lee? And “Marwencol” is Carell’s fantasy version?
At least it’s no longer called The Women of Marwen — that really wouldn’t have worked. A documentary about New Jersey suffragettes during the World War I years, or something in that realm.
Aside from Carell and costar Neil Jackson, it’s pretty much an all-woman cast, at least in the principal roles — Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González, Gwendoline Christie, Leslie Zemeckis, Diane Kruger.