It takes courage to follow your heart, and the pain of self-discovery is at times hard to endure. This is the journey that awaits Marco (a superb performance by the emerging actor Walter Rodriguez), the young protagonist of Marilyn.
Marilyn – a directorial feature debut from Martín Rodríguez Redondo, an Argentinian filmmaker – is based on a true story, and has already won the CICAE Art Cinema Award at the Cine en Construcción, section of Toulouse Cinélatino Rencontres Festival, and the Sin Sistema prize at the Work in Progress section of BAL (Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival). It also received INCAAs First Feature Film Prize, the INCAA-CNCA Co-Production Support Fund (Argentina-Chile), and Ibermedia’s Film Co-Production Support Fund, to name just a few. Marilyn received its world premiere at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival and was shown in the Panorama section.
Rural Argentina is like a realm that hides many secrets and stories. Marco lives his life with his mother Olga (Catalina Saavedra), father Carlos (Germán de Silva) and a brother, on a remote farm somewhere in the countryside. He is a good student who obeys his parents, but he also struggles to figure out his own existence; he feels uncomfortable in his own skin, not really knowing who he is, apart from whatever relationship he happens to have with his family and his best friend. Eventually, he becomes an object of desire… and of discrimination.
Marco manages to build a small wall around himself, within which he creates the world for himself – that of a young man who likes to wear women’s clothes, likes to put on makeup and is in a relationship with Federico. With a carnival approaching, Marco is excited – he can finally dress up and be himself, but what follows is a calamitous, dramatic event that leads to an even bigger misfortune… Everything seems to be somewhat predictable, up until the last minutes of the film.
Marilyn is a cinematic journey of self-discovery and you might want to prepare tissues – there’s a fair chance that you will shed a few tears while watching it. There are also a couple of distressing scenes in the film that you will wish you have never witnessed, and yet, it is necessary to show an honest picture of what young men like Marco go through on a daily basis, may it be somewhere in Argentina or anywhere around the world. The consequences of the boy’s struggles lead to an unthinkable tragedy; he murders his mother and brother, which makes a person wonder why would a young man, a teenager, commit such an atrocious act?
Marilyn, co-written by Martin Rodriguez Redondo and Mariana Docampo, is based on the true story of Marcelo B, who is now perceived as Marilyn, and who was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing his family members. He also became one of the first people to be in a gay marriage while behind the bars.
The film introduces Marco’s persona prior to the deaths of his mother and brother, probably for the audience to observe the process of consequences after a person’s inner self gets squashed by their close ones, leaving them completely broken and frustrated.
Martin Rodriguez Redondo’s feature debut is striking; it is intense and heart-rending and worth every minute of the viewers’ time. The filmmaker draws an honest portrait of a man who is in need of a transformation and is trying to find his own manner of existence, even if his journey of self-discovery ends in a tragedy.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
All photos © Marilyn