Marilyn Monroe was indisputably one of the biggest stars of the 20th century, famed for her striking looks and seemingly effortless sensuality. As is so often the case with superstars, Monroe was not without her troubles, and when some of her personal papers were recently unearthed, director Liz Garbus realised that there was a documentary just waiting to be made.
It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting. I think that in my mind, I’d mixed it up with the trailers I’d seen for the upcoming Diana movie, and was anticipating a docudrama. It’s not. It’s a group of actors and friends of Monroe’s talking about the late beauty’s life, shot in quite a low-budget-looking style and without any particular airs and graces.
This took me a while to get used to. I spent the first ten minutes being a bit distracted and feeling like I was watching one of those Sunday evening filler programmes. But then something happened, and the story of Marilyn’s life was just too interesting to be distracted from. All the featured actors – and there are some stellar names in there – seem to be quoting the parts of Monroe’s journals that they most relate to. Her friends are candid, openly describing some of the difficulties Marilyn faced and discussing her tumultuous personal relationships. There’s even an interview with Arthur Miller, who was married to her for five years.
I didn’t know much about Monroe before watching the film, other than that she was a model and actress who obviously had her problems, but Love, Marilyn gave a real insight into the woman behind the blonde hair and the beauty spot. The dedication she put in to her work, the frustration she felt at not being taken seriously, the knowledge that she’d built herself up into something she was not, add layers of complexity to a character who all too often is portrayed as barely two-dimensional.
I wouldn’t have sought it out, so I’m glad it came to me. If you’re interested in stardom, the psychology of acting or even just the definition of being human, it’s worth a look.
Love, Marilyn comes out on the 18th of October. Featuring Elizabeth Banks, Adrian Brody, Lindsey Lohan, Uma Thurman, Jack Huston and Marisa Tomei.