Mark: I built Marwencol for me…for my therapy…and now it’s like everybody’s. Like everybody wants to play in it or be part of it, and I don’t want all that.
After he was severely beaten by 5 men, a down on his luck alcoholic, Mark Hogancamp, couldn’t remember anything from his life before that day. After relearning how to do basic tasks and to live on his own, he began to create a fantasy world that he could feel safe in by constructing a town called Marwencol and filling it with dolls that represent people he meets in his real life.
If Charlie Kaufman was God, these are the kinds of people and situations he would love to spend his days creating. In fact, in Kaufman’s Synechdoche, New York, the main character, Caden, does do something a little bit like what Mark Hogancamp did in real life. He creates a virtual world that represents his real life. In both cases, the characters in the fantasy world usually go through exactly what the real life person had to suffer through. It’s a form of therapy for Hogancamp, and he’s well aware of that. In fact, by the end of the movie, his 1/6th size doll counterpart is constructing a miniature city of his own after having suffered a severe beating. I’m not sure how much further that Matryoshka Doll-like scenario could be carried out by Hogancamp, but in Synechdoche, New York Caden just kept going and going with it until there was seemingly no longer any reality for him. Hopefully Hogancamp won’t need to dive that deeply into his fantasy world.
As for the movie itself, it starts off fascinating and ends with some good emotional moments. Only in the middle did it drag a bit for me. The models that Hogancamp has built are amazing, but there’s only so many photos of them I can look at before it gets a little tedious. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not torturous, it just wears a little thin. I would have liked to see even more interviews with people that knew Mark before and after his memory loss. The more I learned about him, the more interesting his fantasy world became.
And believe me, there is plenty to learn about him. He may be a bit strange (borderline depraved at times), but by the end of the movie when he’s getting ready for his gallery show, you will almost definitely find yourself rooting for him to overcome his fears and start socializing with people who aren’t 8 inches tall and made of plastic.
Though, I gotta say, it does seem like most guys have pretty good luck with the ladies in Marwencol. I might need to stop by there some day…
Amnesia can be an effective cure for alcoholism.
10 – 2.2 for being a bit dull/repetitive in the middle portion of the movie = 7.8