Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Review

Saturday 18 February 2023

Plot: Feature adaptation of the animated short film interviewing a mollusk named Marcel.

Film: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Director: Dean Fleischer Camp

Writers: Dean Fleischer Camp, Jenny Slate, Nick Paley

Starring: Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer Camp, Isabella Rossellini

This was a film I saw purely because of the Oscar buzz, and it did not disappoint. My first five star of the year goes to a mockumentary about a shell who wears shoes. I loved everything about this film from the characters to the fact that this is exactly the sort of film I could only have wished of making at university. Such a simple, quirky concept became the most moving hour and a half of the year so far. 

The story follows Marcel (Jenny Slate), who is quite literally a sentient shell who wears shoes, and his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini), as they go about their lives in peace, living in a home listed as an Air BnB, until Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp) comes to stay and discovers them. Rightly fascinated, Dean begins to film and interview Marcel and it transpire that once there were more than just Marcel and Connie, and thus sparks their amazing journey to find Marcel’s family.

How do you track down a family of molluscs in a place as big as California? The same way we answer most questions these days, Dean and Marcel turn to the internet for help. Dean uploads his interviews with Marcel to YouTube and goes viral. Suddenly famous, Marcel must deal with that as well as trying to track down his family. It’s a lot for anyone to take on, and watching it happen to someone so small and seemingly powerless, really drives the message home about the cost of fame.

The way that Dean remains behind the camera for the most part, he doesn’t step in to help when Marcel is struggling, and Marcel equally never asks for help, shows just how mighty the character is despite his size. It reminds the viewer that while things may seem impossible, you can only try and keep trying until you succeed or find a new way to live. 

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is the most wholesome story about grief and loneliness but also family and community. This is a film that will pull at your heartstrings but also bring you immense comfort. Look past the silly title and go into this film with your heart open, you won’t be disappointed. 

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