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article imageReview: ‘Love, Marilyn’ is as magnetic as its subject Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 5, 2013 in Entertainment
‘Love, Marilyn’ unveils the life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe in her own words, drawing from two boxes of her personal papers discovered buried in storage 50 years after her death.
If it’s possible to use a person’s own words to write a love letter to them, then that is the product of Love, Marilyn. The film is a captivating visual biography of one of Hollywood’s most mesmerizing icons: Marilyn Monroe. Beginning when stardom was but a dream of Norma Jeane Mortenson, the picture follows the path of bit roles, high profile marriages and widespread fame.
From a combination of letters, poems and journal entries, Monroe’s words are given a voice by various actresses, including Elizabeth Banks, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Lindsay Lohan, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Other people’s thoughts, such as Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, Sir Laurence Olivier and Greg Cukor, are shared via archival interviews and similar readings. Starting at the beginning with her desire to be an actress, the film follows the ups and downs of her career until her death in 1962.
While this seems like an untraditional method of conveying and examining a person’s life, it is incredibly effective. The one significant gap appears to be her affair with President Kennedy, though her marriages are explored thoroughly. Photos from professional shoots, candid shots by friends, newspaper images and film clips paint a picture of the vivacious but troubled young woman.
Filled with personal anecdotes and Monroe's unguarded thoughts, the narrative builds on the legend expanding it further and revealing the many chasms created by her insecurities. Through archival footage, 20th Century Fox executive Ben Lyon explains how he suggesting renaming Norma Jeane, developing the famous MM. Friends reveal that Olivier's dismissal of Monroe as just a sexy blonde caused her bad behavior on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. And Monroe's own words uncover a deep desire to compensate for her lack of formal education; a genuine love for living; and a commitment to be a respected Hollywood actress -- a dream she never truly realized.
A stellar cast weaves together an array of fascinating voices. Banks, Close, Davis and Tomei standout in the role of Monroe. Their tone captures the emotion of her words so aptly. Moreover, Ben Foster is more than suitable as the recurring voice of Mailer and Adrien Brody’s Truman Capote is surprisingly on the mark.
This is a beautiful, creative and artful documentary that doubles as a tribute to one of cinema's everlasting bombshells and overcomes its narrative holes by being sincere and well made.
Director: Liz Garbus
More about Love Marilyn, Marilyn monroe, Liz Garbus, Glenn close, viola davis
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