Review: Love, Marilyn
Modern day celebrities bring to life the story of Marilyn Monroe as told through her personal writings, and the correspondences of her contemporaries and lovers.
Who’s in It?
Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Banks, Marissa Tomei, Jennifer Ehle, among others, take on the various voices of Marilyn. Ben Foster, Adrien Brody, Jeremy Piven, Stephen Lang, and a wonderful Oliver Platt, among others, lend their voices and acting skills to the role of the many men in her life.
There is no one Marilyn Monroe, and thus it makes sense to have a plentiful group of diverse, talented actresses looking to channel her many voices. In Liz Garbus’ simplistically and beautifully-designed documentary, she turns the personal writings of Marilyn over to actresses who paint an evocative picture of the famous, plagued starlet.
Each actress brings out a different aspect of Marilyn’s many moods, feelings, and thoughts. Tomei is conflicted, Thurman emotional, Banks hopeful, Glenn Close determined. The most compelling Marilyn may be brought to the screen by Ehle, reading notes from a star that is confused yet earnest, strong yet desperate.
The film follows her life from the start of her quest to be a star to her tragic ending, focusing on her two marriages, and continued dispute with the studio 20th Century Fox, though is by no means comprehensive – nor is it meant to be. While present day actors read the notes of those not around to iterate them, archival footage and interviews done specifically for the film fill in the holes and move the story along. Some of the most illuminating insight comes from Marilyn’s best friend Amy Greene, sharing conversations and anecdotes.
At times hysterically funny and tragically sad, Love, Marilyn may not be the all-encompassing quintessential documentation on Norma Jeane’s life, but it is a piece of masterful, marvelous storytelling.
And it is a story – it is the retelling of one, the interpretation of one. The actors and actresses in the film search the words for Marilyn’s voice and hope to find the right tone. Of the many things the documentary tells us though, it’s that Marilyn wasn’t even sure who she was, so how could anyone else be sure? There lies the film’s brilliance – you can’t have just one.
Adrien Brody is the voice of Truman Capote, relating a tale about the two of them having dinner. When Marilyn runs off to the washroom and doesn’t return, he finds her still there 20 minutes later, staring into the mirror. He asks her what she is doing, and she responds, “Looking at her.”
Should You See It?
Whether you know nothing or think you know everything about her life, it is a compelling artistic offering, and a revealing biography.
Marilyn Monroe’s words, as read by Glen Close. “When I do trust myself about certain things, I do fully.”