Monroe cultists will undoubtedly have a field day with NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN, alternately being titillated by and disputing the facts presented here. A good example of fuel for the first is the fact that the film shows Marilyn dying chastely dressed, in contradiction to what is perhaps
the most commonly-known "fact" about her, that her corpse was found nude.
At a church service, 18-year-old Norma Jean Dougherty (Ashley Judd) stands naked and unembarrassed among the other churchgoers. It is a dream she is recounting to her new friend Eddie Jordan (Josh Charles), who is smitten with Norma Jean and her open sexuality. Norma Jean makes no secret of the
fact that she will do whatever is necessary to become a Hollywood star, including sleeping with anyone who can further her career.
As she pursues this path, flashbacks show her early life, spent in a succession of abusive foster homes after her mentally ill mother was institutionalized.
In the style of the times, Norma Jean submits to various cosmetic "adjustments" to her image. After plastic surgery, she emerges as Marilyn Monroe (Mira Sorvino). Norma Jean remains as a presence who advises Marilyn on her career, beating back her confused emotions, and encouraging her to be
hard-headed and practical.
As her career skyrockets, Marilyn continues to be torn between these two poles. Unable to deal with her own insecurities, the pressures of stardom, a series of failed romances, and her fears of succumbing to the same mental illness that cursed her mother and grandmother, she commits suicide in
Like the Kennedy assassination (to which it is inevitably linked), the life and death of Marilyn Monroe, nee Norma Jean Mortenson Baker Dougherty, continues to fascinate those with a yen for popular myths in which an unknown "true" story beckons seductively from behind a cloud of cover-ups,
disputed facts, and whispered innuendo.
For non-Monroe cultists, NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN is less a Hollywood expose than a grim psychological portrait of an emotionally disturbed woman. The strategy of having Norma Jean and Marilyn portrayed by two different actresses, who appear on screen together to verbalize her inner turmoil, has
some basis in fact: Monroe did complain of hearing voices in her head telling her what to do. If Judd turns in the better performance, it must be said that she has more to work with. Not only is Sorvino constrained by the need to impersonate the Monroe we remember, but her part is much more
reactive than that of the hard-bitten Norma Jean.(Violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: Monroe cultists will undoubtedly have a field day with NORMA JEAN AND MARILYN, alternately being titillated by and disputing the facts presented here. A good example of fuel for the first is the fact that the film shows Marilyn dying chastely dressed, in c… (more)