The documentary film is evolving to much more than the standard talking heads or dry reporting on a story, the medium is finding new ways to entertain while giving some insight on to a person or a period in history. "Love, Marilyn" takes us into the mind of one of the most iconic stars of the 20th century as we get her life in her own words.
Some fifty years after Marilyn Monroe’s death, two boxes of her personal papers were discovered, buried in storage. These journal entries, letters and poems reveal Marilyn’s unguarded thoughts and feelings through some of the best and some of the worst times of her career. They also provide the basis for "Love, Marilyn" which offers a thoughtful distillation of Marilyn’s life. Over the years more than 1,000 books have been written about her, now at long last, Marilyn herself gets a voice.
While admittedly an unabashed love note to the life and career of Marilyn, writer/director Liz Garbus best know previously from her film "Bobby Fischer Against The World" has crafted a pretty solid case dissecting the myth and aura of Marilyn Monroe. Through her own writings, archival footage and interviews with biographers, historians and friends, Garbus molds an image that Monroe's image was a very shrewd and calculated act used in order to get her way and to be seen as more than just the sexpot, blonde bimbo type that she had been mostly type cast during the early stages of her career. With a slew of celebrities reading excerpts from her personal writings as well excerpts from other writers it managed to develop a serious life of its own. As the likes of Glenn Close, Jennifer Ehle, Adrien Brody, Uma Thurman, Jeremy Piven, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Lindsay Lohan, Elizabeth Banks, Viola Davis, F Murray Abraham and many others assume the voice of Marilyn and some her closest confidants, their dramatic readings and performances that play alongside Garbus' excellent craftsmanship in taking us through the various high and lows of her career truly adds depth to the entire proceedings. It makes for a truly gripping experience.
The story does get a little negative at times as it also hops to the defense of its heroine as her husband's Joe Dimaggio and Arthur Miller are not portrayed in the kind of lights. It is actually a credit to Garbus as a filmmaker and as a storyteller, because even though this obviously a pro-Marilyn piece she doesn't just give us the happy moments. To even begin to understand the sensitive and complex character and human being that she was, Garbus gave us both sides of the coin, how some of her insecurities and lack of actual ego about herself were an obvious determent to her psyche, but how others were valuable tools in crafting her image allowing her to play the Hollywood game which at that time was still a male dominated business. She may have been terribly insecure, but she was no dummy.
There are no on disc extras on the DVD, but this set includes a 10 page booklet featuring quotes from Marilyn's own journals that are read during the film.
Beloved my millions across the globe, Marilyn Monroe is a pop culture icon that will always remain somewhat of enigma. However with "Love, Marilyn" we at least get the sense that in many ways she achieved her ultimate goal of being an excellent actress considering the genuine hard work she put into being the icon that we all remember her for.
4 out of 5 stars.