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  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There are countless ways to work through a traumatic experience;

There are countless ways to work through a traumatic experience;
for Mark Hogancamp, peace came in the form of action figures. After being severely beaten outside of a bar, the Kingston, New York, native began to obsess over G.I. Joe--like dolls---so much so that he built an entire WWII-era town, named Marwencol, populated by these elaborately customized toy soldiers. In Mark's imaginary world, Nazis and Allied troops bond over Belgian beers and watching female catfights in a tiny tavern. That Mark's own nine-inch alter ego acts out romantic and rage-filled scenarios---with figures bearing the names of people in his life---simply underscores the psychodramatic aspects of this minuscule alternative universe.

Jeff Malmberg's documentary does an amazing job of turning this small patch of dollhouses into a vibrant world of its own, utilizing Hogancamp's own extraordinary pictures of Marwencol's inhabitants to great effect. When it comes to capturing the man behind the phenomenon, however, the film never progresses beyond a superficial, weird-yet-wonderful portraiture. Yes, this imaginary town is a projection of internal pain, but that's as psychologically deep as the film gets. Major questions (what's the fascination with WWII?) are left unasked, and when a personal peccadillo is revealed---and curiously emphasized---late in the film, there's no explanation of how this quirk plays into Hogancamp's vast outsider-art canvas, if at all.

Watch the trailer

Written by David Fear
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