Thanks to a vicious beating outside a bar by five men, Mark Hogencamp suffered such brain damage that he lost part of his memory and, temporarily, all his motor skills. As part of his rehabilitation from this devastating incident, Hogencamp took up art and began creating Marwencol, a 1/6th-scale model WWII Belgian town in his backyard, which he then populated with dolls based on himself, friends and acquaintances. Jeff Malmberg’s documentary about Hogencamp’s artistic endeavor may be aesthetically rough around the edges but it nonetheless offers an empathetic view on a stunningly unique figure. Marwencol functions not simply as a diversion for Hogencamp – who creates elaborate fictions for his doll alter ego and the town’s inhabitants, all of whom he photographs – but also as a means of therapy, an elaborate fantasy world where he can both reflect, and reimagine, the trauma of his attack and its ensuing emotional, physical and psychological fallout. Hogencamp’s alcoholism, his cross-dressing desires (which led to his being beaten), his fear of being hurt, his fury at those who assaulted him, and his longing for now-lost memories (of a former marriage, of sex, and of childhood) are all made manifest through his Marwencol soap opera’s time machines, Nazi torture sessions and love triangles. In an unexpected twist, Hogencamp’s work eventually makes him something of a Greenwich Village art-world mini-star, a development also mirrored in his Marwencol storyline. Yet throughout, the handicapped man remains something of a mystery, and with major questions left unaddressed or unanswered (what happened to his marriage? Why did he become an alcoholic? Why the fascination with WWII?), the film proves to be a portrait – of life refracted through art refracted through life – that remains a tad too far outside its outsider-art subject.