Marilyn Monroe was an entirely self-made creation.
The tragic building blocks that took her to the top of the movie hit parade included child abuse, desertion, the casting couch, sadistic drama coaches, two ill-chosen husbands, drink, drugs and an apparent inability to bear children.
The many books on her life and premature death – more than 1,000 of them according to this documentary – have trawled through such details for the last five decades. Yet seemingly few have used Monroe’s own words – her diaries, notes and memos – in an attempt to present the world as she saw it.
Love, Marilyn is a subjective take on the tragic icon’s 37 years with her words given life by a star-studded array of on-screen narrators.
The line-up includes Paul Giamatti, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Adrien Brody and Uma Thurman. And the hammered-home message is that beneath the public image of the ditzy peroxide blonde was a woman who worked night and day to become a movie star and who yearned for validation as a deeper thinker than that image allowed.
It’s a simplistic approach and a not particularly effective one. The constant parade of celebrities, each given lines from Monroe’s scribblings or relevant to a raft of observers that includes directors, studio chiefs and co-stars, is actually a distraction.
Yet Monroe herself – via her own tortured thoughts on men, marriage, movies, madness and mortality – emerges as a woman desperate to escape from the impression she invented and from bad relationships, poor films, dictatorial bosses and the legacy of her mother’s mental instability.
On limited release