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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996)



Reviews and Comments

This biopic of Marilyn Monroe is a neat idea. Two characters play the celebrated actress: Ashley Judd plays the side of her personality called Norma Jean (her real name), while Mira Sorvino plays Marilyn Monroe, the movie star. As her fame increases, so also does the conflict and separation between Norma Jean and Marilyn Monroe -- the conflict, according to this film, gradually drove her insane and eventually caused her death by suicide. The last third of the film is understandably dark and disturbing. It was certainly effective enough in this attempt, although I'm not sure it struck all the right notes -- I prefer not to wallow in depressed gloominess, even for the sake of art, unless I can take something else back out with me, some intellectual idea or creative expression or simply an appreciation for fine craft. Norma Jean and Marilyn didn't provide any of that for me.

The first two thirds, however, are less dreary and more satisfying. It was fun watching Monroe's rise to fame, seeing famous movie personages and sets recreated and seeing pieces of cinematic lore brought to life. I particularly enjoyed Sorvino's Monroe impersonation which falters here and there but is on the whole remarkable.