Norma Jean & Marilyn (TV Movie 1996) Poster

(1996 TV Movie)

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More to it than you might think
SlawDawg9 August 2002
I feel a need to defend this movie, at least against the charges that it doesn't present accurate characterizations of Marilyn Monroe. First of all, for someone to decide that Mira Sorvino plays Marilyn as an extension of her screen persona and not as she "really was" is specious at best. The way public figures behave off-camera isn't exactly something we as an audience can make a decision on. You don't know what happens behind those closed doors. That's why they're closed, so you can't see what's going on.

But, really, that's beside the point. Whether or not Marilyn was truly like Sorvino plays her isn't really an issue. The surreal qualities of Norma Jean & Marilyn give ample indication that the filmmakers had no intention to go out and make a straightforward biopic. What they have in mind here is more complex. As heavy-handed as it may be, the symbolism is the real focus of the movie. Marilyn Monroe had two identities, and Sorvino and Ashley Judd go to great pains to illustrate in no uncertain terms that these two identities were in conflict with one another. The very different characterizations aren't saying that Marilyn was two different people. They are simply a case of filmmakers taking dramatic license to exaggerate something for the sake of making it clearer: Norma Jean Dougherty reinvented herself in her mind as someone who could get what she couldn't get herself. Try not to think of this film as a study of Monroe's outward change from Norma Jean to Marilyn. Think of it as more of a look inside her head, as an analysis of all the motives and frustrations bouncing around in her mind, and ultimately serving to identify her more than any physical appearances could ever do. It doesn't matter whether or not she really saw the word "Bourbon" and read it as "Bonbon." As the film lays it out, this is her image of herself, and in reflex, everyone else's image of her.

And then there are those who will complain that it isn't right to speculate on someone's image of herself. But you can't ask a film to stick completely to facts. Conjecture is what makes nonfiction interesting. And it is what makes Norma Jean & Marilyn interesting.

On the acting and in response to those who see the film as "soapy" and "campy": Life is a soap opera. Most of us are able to keep that at bay and live life as a perfectly reasonable chain of events. But desperate people historically are not able to do that. Drama is what they have, and drama is how they can get results. Marilyn, as the film puts it (and remember, you need to always look at a film like this on its own merits, especially when it doesn't portray itself as factual, which this one emphatically does not) is one of these desperate people, and the script respects that as a mean to that untimely end. Mira Sorvino's performance understands this. Yes, it's pretty wooden at first, but by the time she sings Happy Birthday to President Kennedy, hopped up on her crutch of barbituates and alcohol, her Marilyn has become fully realized in the downward spiral that will eventually take her life. Coupled with Ashley Judd's commanding performance as the girl who can only get what she wants by becoming someone else, and Sorvino's performance makes a full, tragic character, keeping to that perception of Marilyn Monroe as the eternal blonde bombshell legend.
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8/10
A Misjudged and Misunderstood TV movie...
ijonesiii24 January 2006
For years, the 1996 HBO movie NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN has been maligned and skewered by critics and viewers alike because it was not an accurate biography of Marilyn Monroe. Frankly, if you're looking for an accurate film biography of Marilyn Monroe, there is no such animal (though the ABC-TV movie with Catherine Hicks is pretty close). NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN is not supposed to be a biography of Marilyn. So much has been written about Marilyn over the past 50 years, how can there be anything that people don't know at this point? That's why this movie took a different tack and presented a probing psychological drama that speculates about the inner demons that tormented Marilyn from her childhood as Norma Jean throughout her adult life as Marilyn. Ashley Judd lights up the screen as a young Norma Jean, the young woman determined to forget a loveless marriage to Jim Dougherty and carve out a career for herself as a movie star, even if she has to sleep her way to the top to do it. Norma Jean makes no bones about what she wants, even if it means using and abusing good friend Eddie Jordan (Josh Charles)to get to his famous uncle as an "in" to the Hollywood crowd. The screenplay splices together fantasies and inner dialogues with some actual events in Norma Jean's life in order to give us a look into Marilyn's psyche. Once Norma Jean gets signed to Fox and she changes her name to Marilyn Monroe, Mira Sorvino takes over the role in an uncanny reincarnation of the screen's greatest sex symbol. Sorvino is warm and heartbreaking as Marilyn, recreating some of Marilyn's greatest on screen moments with frightening accuracy while at the same time beautifully conveying the decay of Marilyn's mind, thanks to booze, pills, men, and the treatment she received from studio heads, acting coaches, and others who tried to help her. What makes this film unique and indicates that it is not just a typical biopic is that after Sorvino takes over the role, Ashley Judd still appears as the inner Norma Jean, coaching and encouraging Marilyn to do the right thing and ridiculing her when she does the wrong thing. This movie is an examination of the inner Marilyn who lived in constant mental anguish and was never satisfied with anything she ever did or any relationship she had. The movie is well-written with flashbacks and flash forwards that require close attention in order to stay with the story but it is well worth it. Sorvino and Judd receive solid support from David Dukes as Arthur Miller, Peter Dobsono as Joe DiMaggio, Ron Rifkin as Johnny Hyde, and Lindsay Crouse as Natasha, Marilyn's acting coach who, according to this film,was in love with her. This is a haunting and disturbing film that will not answer all your questions about her, but might help you to understand what a tormented soul she was. If you're looking for a biography of Marilyn, go to a library and check out a book on Marilyn. If you're looking for a unique film experience about a side of Marilyn we rarely saw, then give NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN a look.
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7/10
Not entirely truthful but reasonably entertaining
hall89523 July 2007
If you're looking to see the "true story" of Marilyn Monroe's life you're probably better off skipping this movie. Norma Jean & Marilyn takes great liberties with the facts in trying to spice up the drama. There are plenty of half-truths and flat-out non-truths littered throughout. But if you can get past that you may find that this still manages to be a reasonably worthwhile movie. It's not an accurate biographical account of Marilyn Monroe's life, it's a dramatization. And not a bad dramatization at that.

This is a movie with a gimmick in that there are two Marilyn Monroes. Ashley Judd plays the icon in her younger days as unknown Norma Jean. Mira Sorvino takes over when Hollywood transforms Norma Jean into Marilyn Monroe. But we have not heard the last of Norma Jean as Judd continues to pop up now and again as an inner voice so to speak, sometimes to encourage and sometimes to berate and ridicule Sorvino's Marilyn. The point being that young Norma Jean desperately wanted to be a star and refuses to allow Marilyn to screw things up. Suffice to say these constant appearances by her younger self do not help Marilyn's state of mind as her life begins to spiral out of control towards her inevitable sad end. The two lead actresses perform their roles well. Judd is pitch-perfect as the desperate, driven Norma Jean. Sorvino is pretty much stuck doing a Marilyn Monroe impersonation but she makes the best of what she has to work with. As presented here the character may come off as a bit too much of a dumb blonde bimbo to really ring true. Surely, for all the myriad issues she had, the real Monroe was brighter than she's given credit for here. But it's hard to blame Sorvino, she can only portray the character as it was written. All in all it's a fairly gripping, if not entirely truthful, drama. And having two actresses play the famed icon at different points in her life adds a unique twist. This is clearly no work of genius but if you're looking for a reasonably entertaining movie you could do a lot worse.
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5/10
Odd/Disturbing picture of Marilyn
Atomic-421 June 1999
I must say that this movie was very interesting, and more than a little disturbing. My knowledge of Marilyn info is not that expansive, but I thought the movie glossed over/fibbed/forgot about some important stuff in her life and chose to focus on the drugs/abuse/breakdown side of her personality. I adore both Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, but neither were very convincing as Marilyn in my humble opinion. (Altho Mira had her voice down pat) The movie was entertaining, but I felt it painted Marilyn more as "deranged over the edge Marilyn" than "gifted star with problems Marilyn".
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2/10
A pretty pathetic film.
katie_w12527 October 2005
Anyone who is a fan of Marilyn Monroe and has spent at least a little time learning about her life will probably end up being completely appalled by this movie. I know I was.

"Norma Jean and Marilyn" portrays Monroe as a completely superficial, selfish lunatic. It was almost as if the screenplay was written by someone that just heard about her mental problems, and never bothered to read a single biography.

What was the point of casting different actresses to play Monroe before and after her plastic surgery? In reality, the woman didn't really change that much in appearance. Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino are so different in the way that they look... The whole thing was just a bad idea.

And while I will admit that I was impressed at times by Sorvino's acting chops, the casting of Judd was ridiculous, and overall both of their performances were pretty over-the-top.

When this movie ended, I was just flat out mad. Mad because I had wasted two hours of my life watching the stupid thing. And mad because of the unfair portrayal of one of classical Hollywood's most talented stars.

Marilyn Monroe was not crazy. She did not have hallucinations. She did not live in her own little world. She had a drug problem. And she had paralyzing insecurity, stemming from a childhood spent in numerous foster homes, where she was molested and abused. Years after her death, it was revealed that she had bipolar disorder, yet this travesty of a biopic stuck to the idea that she was nuts.

Spare yourself the annoyance, and do not watch this movie.
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4/10
Horrible Portrayal
marymorphine5 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A horrible portrayal of the legendary Marilyn Monroe.

If Marilyn Monroe was as dumb as this movie made her out to be, we wouldn't be celebrating her legacy as we are today. Marilyn Monroe was a brilliant woman who knew how to work the cameras. She had a heart and this movie made her cold and without a soul.

Her death scene portrayed in this movie is inaccurate and ridiculous. She not die in an ambulance or in the bathroom and she did not drink down her pills. She took pills that have to be put through the rectum, not the mouth, and she was found by her maid face down on her bed naked in her bedroom with the telephone beside her.
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Judd eats Sorvino's lunch
heckles25 July 2000
This film used a bit of gimmick casting; having one actress play the young and hungry starlet Norma Jean, and another playing 'Marilyn; after she had achieved fame and wealth. Add to that Marianne Davis, who plays Norma Jean when she was a frightened young girl being moved from place to place.

The movie is not entirely successful, because Sorvino plays Marilyn as her flighty image of the films rather than a logical continuation of the Norma Jean persona, making her death occur with a whimper rather than a grand crash. But it is very definitely worthwhile for seeing Ashley Judd play Norma Jean to the hilt as a woman whose delicate features overlay a soul of chromium steel, determined never to repeat the humiliations of her girlhood. It was an entirely different angle on Norma Jean/Marilyn to see her arrive late (!) for an audition and blithely push her way past other starlets to catch the attention of the producer; or watch her, in a fantasy sequence, run over her former hapless self in a car. I was sorry when 'Norma Jean's half' of the movie was over, and pleased to see her return briefly at the end.
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1/10
A travesty
bercg26 April 2002
I'm sorry but Mira Sorvino was so bad in this movie it wasn't even funny. Her attempt to portray Marilyn as a simpering, simple minded bimbo was both misguided and upsetting. As the other reviewer commented, Marilyn Monroe's on screen persona was not the person she was in real life. It's almost as if Mira's interpretation was based on an impression she once saw somebody do of Marilyn. It wasn't even a good stereotypical impression of her. I have to say that Ashley Judd's Norma Jean was miles more interesting to watch than Mira's offering.

This movie was poorly conceived, badly written and terribly acted. No-one could possibly hope to even come close to recreating what Marilyn brought to the screen or the effect she had when she walked into a room. How the makers of this movie thought that they could do it with such poor materials to work with is beyond me.
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1/10
Dead Awful
im_a_green_gazelle29 May 2008
I saw this at my friends house who said it was great so i watched it and i thought it was dreadful! who did the research? There were so many errors, the biggest one that bugged me was in the scene where she got her stage name, in the movie it said she got her last name from a president, wrong! in actuality Marilyn got her last name from her mothers maiden name (monroe) however in the movie and real life she did get her name from Marilyn Miller. The next at the end, it implied that she died in the bedroom, that may have well been where she took the pills that lead to her demise, but she didn't die there she died in the bedroom everyone knows that. Mira Sorvino usually is a good actress, but this was poor, she softened her voice, however she didn't achieve Marilyn's seductive, breathless voice and she portrayed her as dumb when Marilyn was as opposite to the public's opinion was smart and shy not like that. Ashley Judd however was interesting to watch as Norma Jeane, it surprises my why Ashley agreed to that movie as she has been in so many great pictures. Terrible film!
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Bio of the dumbest Hollywood blonde of all time.
fedor823 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A somewhat weird approach to a bio; I occasionally had the feeling they were mocking Monroe. The world's favourite blond mental case is fortunately portrayed here without much idolatry; her many flaws are shown in unflattering ways, and this is refreshing. The blond idiot is portrayed as a selfish, confused, self-centered, ridiculously ambitious Hollywood slut with the brain of a peanut. The film's greatest flaw is the casting of Sorvino as the post-surgery Monroe. This is absurd; Ashley Judd is far better-looking than Sorvino, so to cast Sorvino as the new-and-improved Monroe is simply ludicrous. Judd has plastic surgery and - voilà - she is suddenly Sorvino! Sorvino?!?... Judd steals the movie, so it's a shame she only dominates the first half-hour or so. The casting for Joe DiMaggio's part is also rather poor.
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1/10
real sad stuff
ldavis-29 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
When Joe DiMaggio died, Jill Isaacs, the writer of this movie, wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times about him and Marilyn Monroe that I found moving. It made me wonder what was it about her which compelled his devotion. I was reminded of that as I caught this the other night, and I thought: why didn't Isaacs write about THAT instead of churning out this dreck?

The only original thing here is two Marilyns for the price of one -- kind of like splitting the atom, if you ask me. Imagine Frankenstein and the Creature - each with his own hangups - in the same body, and you get an idea of what it was like to be Marilyn Monroe (based on what I've read, anyway).

Isaacs offers no insight into how or why Monroe became what she became. You can say it was her childhood, but countless others have had miserable childhoods, too. Why did she go into the movies? Most importantly, how did she create Marilyn Monroe? Even after she became the biggest star in the world, she continued to refine the persona with huge chunks of her "real self". I think the reason for Monroe's enduring appeal is that her "real self" was a genuinely nice person, and not the calculating harpy that we get here.

Then there are the campy moments. What was Isaacs trying to do? You don't just stumble upon a brilliant career. What about talent? Determination? Dedication to one's craft? Instead, we get a vapid creature who sleeps her way to the top, and tramples on virtually everyone unfortunate enough to cross her path. As a result, I found myself waiting for her to kick off.

The fact Judd and Sorvino come THIS CLOSE to overcoming all that is a credit to them as actors.
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Good Movie Overall
CharliesFireFlyAngel9 August 2002
I saw this movie when it first premiered back in 1996 and I saw it again last night. I think that it's a good movie overall. Very good concept, screen-writing, and acting, but I don't even worry about the accuracy, because a lot of times in these type of "biographical" movies, theres always gonna be something different to it, especially when most of the people aren't alive to comfirm what is true and what's isn't.

I found this movie to be very interesting more than anything else and times it seemed very depressing; was Marilyn that sad? Ashley Judd is very impressive in this movie and her portrayal of Norma Jean's involvment in Marilyn's then-current life, is one of the reasons that makes this movie so interesting. Mira Sorvino was also very impressive, but I believe that the only fault in Sorvino's performance was that the writter's seemed to portray Marilyn as a dumb blonde, when I believe Marilyn was not even close to that. Sometimes it did seem kind of disrespectful, but I don't think that they really meant any harm by it, but they should've known. Don't go watching this film expecting accuracy, I think that's what too many people are expecting. Go to this film expecting to hear a possible side to this woman's life, not for the absolute and complete truth, cause you will not get it from this film. The only place you can get the truth is from the late Marilyn herself.
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Movie was good, just very dark
Adriane10 February 1999
As a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, I was excited to see this movie. Mira Sorvino did a pretty good job portraying her, as did Ashley Judd. The story was just very dark, it shows Marilyn's abuse physically and sexually. She has also been abused emotionally by producers and directors. Although the story is very good, it is just very dark.
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10/10
Mira & Judd are Fabulous!!!
Sax17 May 1999
I really like Marilyn as she was,before this movie,and even more now.I've never been into her,like a fanatic,but even if it is not an accurate version,the movie is incredible.Even if they did'nt credit her talent,they credited her journey,and her stamina through it all.I can appreciate anyone who goes through the horror of drug addiction:It happens to be my business and I see a lot of it.Victims of drugs and alcohol are,more than not,people who are strong and have massive potential.This ironic but true.Two thumbs up for this awesome portrayal and breath taking performance in memory of a awesome public figure. Just goes to show how "It can happen" to the best of us.I've seen this movie 5 times & will watch it again.Like "Funny Girl",It's one of my all time faves,& was Ashleys' best yet.
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7/10
What a tangled web we weave
FilmBuff-341 May 1999
Now, I can't tell you how exact the film was because I'm way too young to remember Marilyn, I'm 14 cut me a break, but I thought that this was a seemingly good film, especially for an HBO production. It most likely ranks up with other HBO movies like "A Bronx Tale", "Tyson", and the series "From the Earth to The Moon". I thought that both Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino did an excellent job on their parts. Yet hold in account that I really don't enough knowledge about Marilyn Monroe to hold my facts up in a court of law, but I thought it was a truly good, quality film, but maybe I'm wrong, who knows.
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9/10
Great drama
dandin7655 January 2000
This movie is very well acted, and is a good drama, but don't look for a straight biography. This movie goes into the psychological and emotional problems that lead to her suicide. It is beautiful and tragic. Mira Sorvino plays Marilyn fairly well, but also does a great job of acting overall even if she isn't the spitting image. Don't go into this movie assuming and you will love it.
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9/10
One of the best TV-Movies I've seen in a long time
Tyler D.29 June 1999
I don't know much, in fact almost nothing, about Marylin Monroe so I can't really judge the movie how true it was to her life. But what I can say is that I loved it from the beginning till the end. One of the things I liked about that the movie really focused on her private life and her inner struggles. I thought it was a very good thing not to show a lot of movies or songs or a lot of showbiz. Only a few and that was just enough. I also loved the editing (especially the cut between the toilet when Arthur holds her and puts her in the bathtub), the directing and the camerawork. And I loved Ashly and Mira's acting allthough I have my doubts if Marylin was really so ignorant and naieve... But that's because I don't know Marylin but if she was really like this I feel sorry for her.
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Marilyn would have shed some tears
Bulldog-Dan21 January 2002
I don't know how many times I seen it. It was a masterpiece.Marilyn done all she could to get to where she wanted to be.She even did as most of em had to do which was sleep with every guy at the top till you get there.

The movie was brilliantly done and well played with a good cast.I don't know if i'd used Mira sorvino.

First part of the movie was sad to me. She had a hard life and had to put up with being abused and even raped.

Marilyn had a hard life.To many,money is everything.Marilyn just wanted to be loved. Marilyn didn't know how loved she was.She was sad.

Norma Jean and Marilyn is a movie that I would watch over and over and tell others to watch it.IT IS NOT A MOVIE CHILDREN SHOULD SEE.
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1/10
Breathtakingly Dreadful
mandymackie-114 January 2009
I don't know why I suddenly remembered this film but when I googled it to see if it had actually been released I was astounded to see that it had!

The reason is that a friend and I took part in an audience research screening and were certain that it would never see the light of day.

Even now I can remember some of my comments on the questionnaire they made us fill in before they agreed to unlock the doors and let us run screaming from the cinema.

Q. What did you like about the film? My answer: "Absolutely nothing"

Q. Is there anything that can be done to make the film better? My answer: "Rewrite the script and start again"

Q. What did you think of the music My answer: (it was something like) "one of the less bad aspects of the film"

Assuming that some amendments were made after the audience research survey what I saw must have been EVEN WORSE that what was released!!!

This is probably the worst film I have ever seen in my life. I say "probably" because usually I would get up on my hind legs and walk out of the cinema or turn the TV off. The only reason we sat through the whole thing is because they did actually lock the doors and we weren't allowed out until we had watched every single shitty minute of it and fill out their questionnaire.
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The sea of love & hate
smeater19 July 2003
Three letters describe my expression of this portrayal of one of Hollywood's biggest legends:

W O W

Aside from a complete new look at the woman who awed even an American President, the acting is sumised as a powerful tug on my very own heart strings. Both leads are astonishing in their ability to encapsulate an American Idol while personally sharing situations & emotions that will grip everyone who experiences this masterpiece.

That's all I am gonna say... now- don't just go rent this one- BUY IT!
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2/10
a waste of time
martaF6 August 2002
Years after Marilyn Monroe's death, a portuguese channel decided to pay homage to one of the greatest sex symbols of all time. Starting with a (beautiful) documentary, followed by "Some like it hot", "The Prince and the Showgirl" and (disaster!), "Norma Jean and Marilyn". Let's face it, the movie is a caricature, Mira Sorvino is ridiculous, but Ashley Judd doesn't look that bad.

My advice: stick to the original one.
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Disappointing
joshmayhew3 April 2001
Well, being a big fan of Marilyn Monroe, and her life, I have to say this movie was not very good, and was a poor depiction of Marilyn's life. It seems that every other scene they did something wrong. I'm not picky, but facts are facts. First off, the way they had her die was completely and totally wrong. Second, they portrayed her as a dits who felt sorry for herself all the time. It wasn't like that. While she did have her share of problems, it wasn't as foolish as they made it out to be. I wouldn't rent this.
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6/10
TV biopic
SnoopyStyle1 January 2017
This movie takes a look at the iconic legend from two sides of her persona. Norma Jean Dougherty (Ashley Judd) is the ambitious small town girl and Marilyn Monroe (Mira Sorvino) is the construct after the plastic surgery. She had an unstable mother and an absent father. Her aunt left her in the orphanage after her uncle made a pass. In Hollywood, the married model Norma Jean dates actor Eddie Jordan (Josh Charles) and uses his connections. She vows to be the biggest star ever. Despite the good news of her divorce, she is angrily jealous of Eddie signing a studio contract. She's willing to sleep around including Eddie's uncle Ted to get ahead. Through Ted, she gets to big Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde (Ron Rifkin).

This has the feel of an unauthorized sensationalized TV biopic. Ashley Judd is acting for all her worth in this one. She also gets really naked. It seems desperate. Norma Jean had a desperate drive and I can't separate the story from the sense of movie-making. Nevertheless, it probably has more reality than fiction. This is not some high brow affair despite the high brow concept of two actresses playing the same role. The concept functions well. Mira Sorvino does a fine Monroe imitation although it doesn't feel real. This does try to do a psychological conflict between the two personalities although I like more the Monroe as a smart calculating performer rather than a tragic mental case. Everybody wants the tragic flaw. In the end, this is a functional TV biopic but it seems to be trying too hard for my taste.
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Something to go for, but not clearly enough.
MightyAphrodite29 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
(Um. This contains spoilers. I think.)

"Norma Jean & Marilyn" is a unique and daring movie considering its subject - the late movie icon and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, whose life, you might think, has been chewed over and harped on more than any other movie star's in the history of the universe. Yet, new books are published as we speak (or I type, LOL), new documents are made all the time, and, as rare as it is, someone has actually made a movie about her life. Now, you might wonder, who on *earth* would be casted to play this immortal creature, the most beautiful thing that has ever existed (in my subtle opinion)? The film-makers decided to split the immeasurable pressure - to Ashley Judd, also known from her work in the movies "Someone Like You", "Double Jeopardy", "Kiss The Girls", "Frida", and "The Divine Sisters Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and to Mira Sorvino of "Mighty Aphrodite" (heh, heh), "Summer Of Sam", "At First Sight" and "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion". Judd plays Norma Jeane (with an "e", mind you) Baker/Mortensen/Dougherty (Monroe was born Mortensen, baptized Baker, and after marriage Dougherty), the brown-haired, naive young girl who wants to be famous. Sorvino, on the other hand, plays the grand movie star Marilyn.

The movie itself contains many factual errors and people that did not exist in Marilyn's life, as far as I'm concerned, but manages to capture what some might see as the most important events of her life and career. This includes singing "Happy Birthday" to JFK, her most famous movies, etc. However, the movie only displays her marriages very briefly and her childhood very shallowly and incorrectly. Joe DiMaggio, arguably the love of Marilyn's life, is only shown briefly and all evidence of their newly-formed relationship and planned wedding right before her death are ignored. "Norma Jean and Marilyn" shows Norma Jeane (it's with an "e", dammit!), the young and fragile yet ambitious girl as an all-shagging, calculating, hollow and shallow whore. Which, I'm rather sure, she was not. The movie displays Marilyn, the grown-up movie star, on the other hand, as a drunk-twenty-four-seven, medicine-addicted, thoughtless and unskilled slut. Now, I am not saying she wasn't any of those, since I was born decades later and have/had no connection to her personally, whatsoever, but am saying that the movie completely closed all the alternatives that she was, say, a fragile, love-seeking little girl in a woman's body, with father traumas and a low self-esteem.

The movie-makers exaggerate Marilyn's mental troubles and display her death clearly from only their point of view. All possibilities of murder etc. are wiped off. Also Marilyn's maid, Eunice Murray, who has ever since (she did in the 80's, though) been suspected to have had something to do with Marilyn's death, was completely left out of the movie. In the movie, Marilyn's "old self", Norma Jeane, haunts her throughout her adult life, making her insane. This leaves the viewer considering those two as different persons, even though they're supposed to be the same woman post- and sans stardom.

But, despite the factual errors etc., "Norma Jean & Marilyn" isn't THAT bad. The two leading actresses do a good job and manage to even remind me of Marilyn by their looks, voice, essence and gestures. The male actors, especially Josh Charles (as a male friend of Marilyn's who, as far as I'm concerned, never excisted) and Ron Rifkin (as Johnny Hyde, Marilyn's agent in the early days of her career), are rather good as well. The script, on the other hand, isn't much to go for and leaves the actors only a few good scenes to carry off. The oversized need to show as many pair of breasts and love scenes as possible tends to annoy while watching the movie. Apparently, to the movie-makers Marilyn's sex appeal and sexuality are both completely presented and pushed into a nutshell in a few pair of tits.

But, to sum up... An OK movie, containing with just about as much you can get out of this phenomenal actress and icon into a TV movie. The actors work fine together but the direction and script aren't much to go for. "Norma Jean and Marilyn" isn't a good movie to see when you're just about to start studying Marilyn's life. How about you check out one of her own movies, instead.

As a movie, 6/10. As a biographical movie, which, I'm sure, it wasn't even supposed to be, 2/10.
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This was a bad movie....
Faizel14 September 1999
The characterization in this movie and linking together of the plot was not very well done. At certain points in the movie you wonder whether some characters are imagined or real. In essence the continuity from scene to scene is not smoothly done. The one thing I did like about the movie was the use of an alter-ego to give the story-teller's impression of why the Marilyn did the thing she did.
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