Love, Marilyn Liz Garbus
Published Apr 04, 2013Since the '50s, Marilyn Monroe's name has been synonymous with female sexuality and most things artificial and blonde. Since her death in 1962, she remains as one of the world's greatest icons, inspiring musicians, writers and artists with her timeless glamour and extraordinary character. Her story has been told thousands of times through books, articles and films, yet much of the woman behind the persona is unknown.
Director Liz Garbus's documentary, Love, Marilyn, provides us with insight into the actress's personal and professional life via interviews, archival footage, photographs and, most importantly, Marilyn's personal diaries. Rather than using a straightforward narration formula, Garbus enlisted a lengthy list of modern actresses to read excerpts of the diaries in an attempt to bring some depth to the screen.
While Love, Marilyn offers up some new information and some previously unseen footage of the deceased starlet, the overly dramatic readings are simultaneously distracting and awkward. Stars such as Glenn Close, Lindsay Lohan, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood stand in front of a green screen, with Marilyn's original diary entries enlarged behind them.
But because they are so interested in "performing" during their monologues, often inserting dramatic pauses in their speech or gazing intently into the camera, it seems as though they're begging the viewer to acknowledge their acting more so than Monroe's words.
Monroe's entries are beautifully written, intelligent and insightful, which is why it's a shame Garbus overshadows the supposed primary focus of her film. If the purpose of the documentary was to uncover the real Marilyn Monroe and find out what she was genuinely like, the answer is in the diaries.
Perhaps using voiceover narration without all the on-screen celebrity fuss would have been far more succinct. (Mongrel Media)