I won’t say I’m an expert on the career or life of legendary Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, yet I approached this movie with some caution as I’d heard it was more an ‘Inspired by true events’ take than a full on biopic. However it wasn’t long until I began to get a feel for the woman and her image as actress Ana De Armas (Knives Out) stepped into her shoes and truly became the iconic sex symbol.
Charting the life of Norma Jean Baker, who would eventually transform into Marilyn Monroe, this details a troubled childhood with a mentally ill mother, through to her attempts to become an actress and eventually super-stardom. Along the way we have Hollywood producers sleazing over her and making her do ‘things’ just to get a part, a ménage a trois relationship with Charlie Chaplin jr, through to her marriages with ex-baseball star Joe DiMaggio & play-write Arthur Miller (even though names are changed here).
Having read up on the life of the actress since, in many ways, this gives a good interpretation of Marilyn’s life (with some deviations), and other than sections detailing abortions and sexual abuse, both of which are not exactly stretches to imagine happening, I came away feeling I’d had an education. Director Andrew Dominik has delivered a haunting yet absorbing experience with a stunning & uncanny central performance from Ana De Armas (who surely deserves an Oscar nom). His creative approach to editing, camera work, the use of various types of film stock, aspect ratios and camera lenses all helped convey the fragile psychology and tragedy of Marilyn – and for me raised this movie into something rather mesmerising. It doesn’t cover everything, and I’d have preferred some of the more gratuitous aspects were toned down, as it can get quite graphic … but overall this was powerful viewing.
I have always wanted to see this classic 1959 BillyWilder comedy starring TonyCurtis, JackLemmon & MarilynMonroe. It tells the story of two down on their luck musicians (Curtis & Lemon) who witness a gangland shooting. Before long they are on the run, disguised as women and part of a traveling jazz band … this is where they meet sultry singer Sugar Cain (Monroe), and are soon battling for her attention.
Although not laugh-out-loud funny this has an innocent, amusing charm throughout, aided by enjoyable turns from Curtis & Lemmon clearly enjoying their cross-dressing escapades a bit too much. Monroe shines, with gorgeous screen icon beauty and an infectious personality making it easy to believe the whole world could fall in love with her. Yes its all rather gentle and lacks a bit of spark or convincing danger, but as a much loved classic this was still an entertaining two hours.
The Blu-ray comes in it’s original 1:66:1 ratio and boasts a clean, detailed image, with only brief moments of softness and shimmering. Sound, remixed in 5.1 is equally pleasing without really surprising anyone. Extras consist of a commentary made up of archive interviews, nostalgic documentaries and a trailer. Pretty decent.
I come to this movie at a loss, as I don’t really have much knowledge of movie star Marilyn Monroe beyond her iconic image and an old Elton John song. That isn’t to say that her enduring iconic beauty hasn’t fascinated me. This movie attempts to show a candid, little seen side to the actress, from the viewpoint of a relative outsider to her harem of agents, acting coaches and bodyguards.
Colin Clark is a young man from a wealthy English family who yearns to be a part of the movie industry, so lands a job as an assistant director on a movie being directed by and starring Laurence Olivier. Yet the big name isn’t the famed english character-actor but that of his co-star, Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe. During the time on the movie Colin finds Marilyn not to be the confident, bold personality he’s been lead to believe but that of a shy, nervous and over-protected woman … who he falls in love with. This is a movie boasting a trio of excellent performances, and a story that sheds light on someone who was otherwise hidden behind a fake manufactured image. Marilyn is heart-breaking and tragic, but also endearing and funny; a free spirit not unlike Princess Diana, equally trapped in a world that suffocates her. I felt very sorry for her, and Michelle William’s remarkable performance really captures the frightened little girl inside. Kenneth Branagh is very good too as Olivier, coming across at first as hard-nosed and tough, whilst also gentle and caring, and is quite a joy to behold for an actor better known for his stiff Shakespearian roles. Yet I’m guessing the most impressive performance here is from Brit actor Eddie Redmayne as Colin, who falls for a legendary actress, and discovers the person within, at first star-struck, then totally captivated and understanding, to the point wanting to protect and save her. Yet Marilyn was too big a star to ever really be saved, and therein lies the tragedy of the real person beneath the glitz and glamour.
Harry Potter’s Emily Watson is waisted however as a wardrobe girl, and the movie fails to truly explore Marilyn Monroe, her time on the movie being all too brief to capture who she really was. Yet as a snapshot this small but enjoyable tale entertained and left me with an image of one of the world’s most famous actresses, unlike I had ever imagined.
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