Liz Garbus’s Love, Marilyn gets a lukewarm review from Linda Holmes, reporting for NPR from the Toronto International Film Festival.
“The actresses, including Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Ehle, Uma Thurman, Lindsay Lohan, Evan Rachel Wood, and Elizabeth Banks, have vastly different interpretations of Marilyn…They’re performances that seem to have little to do with each other, and as interesting a conceit as it is, it doesn’t really work to have them all essentially playing different versions of the same person…
Moreover, there are some execution issues that take away from the project’s potential strengths. The actresses are all green-screened in front of various backgrounds, sometimes generic ones but often projections of whatever document they’re reading…Unfortunately, most of the film has the flaw that green-screen can sometimes create, which is a cheap-looking cutout quality with little fuzzy halos around everyone’s head and hair. It’s more conspicuous at some moments than others, but it’s distracting throughout.
There’s also a fundamental challenge to reading what are not necessarily meant to be earth-shattering documents — some are essentially scribblings of the ‘note to self’ variety — with great thespian seriousness. All of these women clearly want to do justice to the idea of Marilyn Monroe, who is so much bigger than life at this point that it seems like perhaps it calls for a bigger than life performance. But there’s a danger of trying to bring import to words that may not have ever been intended to have it, particularly. There is at one point a dramatic reading of a recipe. How much visible acting does that call for?
I wanted to like this project more than I did; it’s such an interesting idea and such a fine lineup of actresses. As someone who sees a lot of documentaries, I appreciate the effort to create new forms and new ways to bring historical figures to life. But in the end, it just doesn’t quite work.”