Mark Hogancamp has an incredible story. Attacked and nearly beaten to death, he survived and then worked through his trauma by building a tiny town populated by action figures based on all of the people in his life, including his attackers, and photographing their lives. His own life and struggles became the subject of the excellent documentary Marwencol, and now they are the source material for the fictional Robert Zemeckis film Welcome to Marwen. The trailer is above; here’s the official synopsis:

Welcome to Marwen tells the miraculous true story of one broken man’s fight as he discovers how artistic imagination can restore the human spirit. When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery.  Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic.  As he builds an astonishing art installation—a testament to the most powerful women he knows—through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one. In a bold, wondrous and timely film from this revolutionary pioneer of contemporary cinema, Welcome to Marwen shows that when your only weapon is your imagination…you’ll find courage in the most unexpected place.

I love Marwencol, but I don’t know what to make of this; turning it into Toy Story with toys that come to life and look like the actors is ... a choice. Zemeckis certainly has the technical dexterity to pull off the tricky visuals (and the toys do look impressive) but the tone of this is a bit more broad than I would expect, given the darkness of this story.

Welcome to Marwen opens in theaters on November 21. If you haven’t seen Marwencol, it’s currently available on Fandor and absolutely worth a look.

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