Sometimes, I come across a film that leaves me utterly flabbergasted. I can see its perhaps-honorable intention, yet the execution is so misguided, it obliterates any attempts at pathos or insight. Martín Rodríguez Redondo’s Marilyn is such a film. It’s quite evident that Redondo is attempting to make a statement about being ostracized – and his feature could have been a much-needed addition to the still-niche LGBTQ subgenre. Instead, it’s a dreary slog, made worse by its unwarranted stabs at artistic merit.
Marcos (Walter Rodriguez) leads a noneventful life on a heat-wave-stricken Argentinian cattle farm with his brother Carlitos (Ignacio Giménez), father Carlos (Germán de Silva) and mother Olga (Catalina Saavedra). Carlos harbors dreams of Marcos going to school, convinced that the younger sibling would eventually “provide for the family.”
“…a romance with local hunk Fede puts Marcos under the risk of a psychotic breakdown…”
However, Marcos is more interested in the skirts Olga sells, filming himself trying them on in secret. He is harassed by the local gang of scooter-riding young men and terrified to come out to his uptight mother. Soon, Carlos’ unexpected death puts the farm under financial risk – as a romance with local hunk Fede (Andrew Bargsted) puts Marcos under the risk of a psychotic breakdown.
I found everything about the film gratuitous: its one-note central performance by Rodriguez, its pseudo-artsy love sequences, its deliberately deliberate pace punctured by violence (e.g., a graphic rape) and flashes of supposed exuberance (e.g., a jarring festival sequence). Redondo keeps the protagonist at arm’s length, never truly probing his soul, and therefore rendering his actions during the finale that much more reprehensible – not just from his perspective, but unearned by the so-called “build-up” that precedes it.
One thing that works well is Catalina Saavedra’s performance as the tormented Olga. The actress finds truth in an underwritten character. She reminds us that cinema needs more well-acted, nuanced films about those who are still inexplicably shunned. Sadly, Marylin brings little to that table. It purports to say a lot with a little but ends up saying very little with, well, a little.
Marylin (2019) Directed by Martín Rodríguez Redondo. Starring Walter Rodríguez, Catalina Saavedra, Andrew Bargsted, Germán de Silva, Ignacio Giménez, Josefina Paredes.
4 out of 10