Before this Spring I had never heard of Marcel the Shell. Evidently he first appeared in a stop-motion short by director Dean Fleischer-Camp in 2010. Then in April we got the first trailer for a Marcel feature film and I was immediately captivated. There’s something so special and endearing about Marcel and his adventures that I couldnt help but become attached. At first I wondered if there would be enough for a feature film but Fleischer-Camp and team have made a truly charming film that should win over even the world’s biggest curmudgeons.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On tells the story of the little shell creature with one eye named Marcel who has been separated from his family by a careless human home owner who takes them when he moves away. Now it is just him, his Nanna Connie and the human tenant Dean (director Dean Fleischer-Camp). When Dean decides to make a documentary Marcel’s world opens up in ways he could never imagine, even eventually being featured on his favorite show, 60 Minutes.
Jenny Slate could not be cuter as Marcel, perfectly capturing what is needed for this character to come alive. So much of the character depends on the voice due to him having only one eye and a small mouth to capture emotion. Isabella Rossellini is also great as Nanna Connie.
I’m afraid in describing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On I make it sound more saccharine than it actually is. It is a very sweet film but it is also touching, tender and made me tear up more than a few times. It touches’ on serious issues like marital discord, family loss, death, and especially loneliness.
You have to wonder if the fact Fleischer-Camp and Slate divorced in 2016 added this layer to the screenplay they worked together on with Nick Paley and Elizabeth Holm. When Marcel asks Dean about his divorce it feels more than a little prosaic.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is getting a pretty decent rollout by distributor A24 so check to see if it is at a theater near you. It’s an absolute gem.
9.5 out of 10 I’m tempted to give this a perfect score. It charmed me!
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