Tuesday, July 02, 2013

love, marilyn

Love, Marilyn, directed by Liz Garbus and currently in rotation on HBO,  tries to be something new and different from the many other documentary observations of the iconic star. It tries artfully to include some of Marilyn Monroe's "recently discovered" writings — poems and excerpts, including recipes and shopping lists from Marilyn's notebooks — read dramatically by an assortment of actors. This tactic is very hit or miss. In a few cases the actors actually add something to the proceedings, most notably Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei, and Elizabeth Banks. But in some cases they seem downright ill-chosen (Evan Rachel Wood, Adrien Brody), or the excerpt being read seems a frivolous choice at best. For anyone who is familiar with Marilyn's life and some of her writings it also becomes clear through Love, Marilyn that many of the poems are read either out of context or out of chronological order, which is in opposition to the orderly time-frame of the star's life that the film otherwise follows, albeit in kaleidoscopic fashion.

Marilyn Monroe, photographed by Milton Greene

There are the usual fabulous photos of Hollywood's most photogenic star, but the most entertaining person in Love, Marilyn is Marilyn's friend Amy Greene (the widow of Milton Greene, the photographer and Marilyn's former business partner), who is a straight-shooter. One wishes that she and Marilyn had been able to keep in closer touch in Marilyn's final years, as the actress could have benefited from someone who had no hesitation in telling it like it is.

Is there anything new in Love, Marilyn? Not really. Not as long as the only way to approach her life continues to be a step-by-step recitation of her struggle for fame and ultimate tragic demise. It's time for a new approach.
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