London Film Festival 2012: Love, Marilyn - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
A LOVE letter to Marilyn Monroe, Liz Garbus’s documentary is a fascinating insight into the ongoing enigma that is one of the world’s most enduring figures.
Drawing from the recently published Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe the film is built around performative readings from actresses such as Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Marisa Tomei and Uma Thurman as well as insights afforded into the views of other people who knew and worked with or observed Marilyn via the performative readings of the likes of Ben Foster, Jeremy Piven, Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn.
It’s an interesting device and one that lends the film one of the starriest casts in memory but it’s one that also works a treat and makes the documentary all the more distinctive for it.
Garbus also draws on archive interviews and footage, photos and home movies to offer as complete and fresh a perspective as she can on the icon, while using Marilyn’s own words to convey both her mental fragility and the way in which she was able to engineer her own success.
The big question is how more the film enables us to get to know her and the answer is debatable, dependant on how well you feel Marilyn really knew herself.
Certainly, the personal insights afforded here indicate a highly tormented soul whose dedication to the craft of acting and reliance on the opinion of others (particularly father figures) proved a big part of her undoing.
It also furthers the ambiguity surrounding her untimely death by suggesting she was at her happiest in the days leading up to it.
As such, it’s fairly rose tinted in its treatment of the more difficult side of her persona. Nor does it examine the Kennedy relationship, only pausing momentarily to examine the personal repercussions of her notorious birthday song to him.
But as an effective homage to an endlessly fascinating figure Love, Marilyn succeeds in captivating its viewers and lifting the lid on a little known side to the actress, while still furthering the mystery and complexity surrounding her.
It comes highly recommended whether you’re a Marilyn devotee or not.
Running time: 107mins
UK Release Date: tbc
London Film Festival Dates: Sunday, October 14 (Empire); Monday, October 15 (OWE2)