50 years after her death, two boxes of Marilyn Monroe's writings—diaries, poems and letters—were discovered in the home of Lee Strasberg, her acting coach. The film features dramatic readings of Marilyn Monroe's writings by actors, film critics, journalists and authors; and archival footage of Hollywood insiders who knew her or worked with her in various films or acting school.Patricia Bosworth
Entertainment Weekly, in its "The Must List: The Top 10 Things We Love This Week" section", picked Love, Marilyn as one of its selections the week of June 28, 2013, Volume #1265. The EW staff wrote, "The iconic star takes center stage in a revelatory HBO documentary that combines old footage and a slew of interviews with such actors as Viola Davis and Glenn Close. Catch it now on VOD or with the HBO Go app."
Matthew Gilbert, film critic with The Boston Globe reviewed the film positively, writing, "But yes, more Marilyn is just what we need, when the project is as exquisitely done as Love, Marilyn. The new HBO documentary, which premieres Monday at 9 p.m., is an elegant pastiche based on the boxes of Monroe’s own writings that were discovered a few years ago. It’s not a traditional biographical film of the American Masters variety, because director Liz Garbus doesn’t attempt to be all-inclusive or to impose chronology onto the material ... Garbus adeptly patches together fragments of a life narrated, in a way, by Monroe herself. She inventively pieces together an impressionistic, revealing, and ultimately moving version of the story that so many of us know already."
Sara Stewart, liked the film as well and wrote in The New York Post, "It's hard to imagine that absolutely everything hasn’t already been said about Marilyn Monroe. But for all the books and movies and tributes and myth-making, the iconic blonde has never had much of a chance to speak for herself...But the writings are the film’s reason for existing, and they are fascinating. Ranging from hastily scribbled jottings to lengthy letters to her acting coach Lee Strasberg, the handwritten notes add a refreshing complexity to a persona that’s been simplified over time into a two-dimensional, if ever-enduring, sex symbol."
American gossip columnist Liz Smith, writing for the New York Social Diary, discussed the actors that appeared in the film, "It is the female stars Ms. Garbus lured that lift the film. Among them: Glenn Close, Ellen Burstyn, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Lindsay Lohan and the magnificent Viola Davis. It is the women who recite Marilyn’s own words — alternately scattered, precise, desperate, hopeful. There’s not a false note anywhere. Every woman seems deeply affected. As Garbus said, 'Marilyn speaks to every woman's inner self — love, family, the desire for perfection, satisfaction in her work. And the fears that she cannot 'have it all.' Sarah Churchwell, who wrote the best book on Monroe, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, also makes an important contribution."
The television critic for the Los Angeles Times, Mary McNamara, discussed the "seductive power of theater", writing, "Yet for all the hope pinned on internal illumination, the first thing Love, Marilyn does is remind us how beautiful Monroe really was. Her face has been so thoroughly replaced in popular culture by commercialized replications that the real thing is a surprising thrill to behold. The film also reinforces the seductive power of theater. Having performers read Monroe's journal entries renders these often quite mundane sentences powerful and possibly revelatory. Through these women, Monroe becomes the serious actor she longed to be."
Still, there were some misgivings in the media regarding the film. Dennis Harvey, writing for Variety wrote, "And while there’s no question Garbus has recruited first-rate talent to pay homage here, some of the most impressive names prove heavy-handed or simply miscast in attempting to channel the love goddess’s fragile spirit; moreover, having them act against green-screened archival materials has a tacky, pop-up televisual feel ... It's all entertaining, and will doubtless fascinate the subject's many die-hard fans. But the revelatory quality that attended some of Garbus' prior docus, on topics from Bobby Fischer to modern incarceration, is absent from what ultimately feels like one more unnecessary excavation of perhaps the 20th century’s least resting-in-peace sex symbol."
The film opened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2012. The film was first televised on HBO on Monday, June 17, 2013.Belgrade Film Festival
Glasgow Film Festival
Hamptons International Film Festival
Montclair Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Portland International Film Festival
Stockholm International Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival