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Review: Argentine coming-of-age drama ‘Marilyn’ says much with silence

Walter Rodríguez and Catalina Saavedra in the movie "Marilyn."
(Breaking Glass Pictures)

“Marilyn” isn’t another take on Hollywood’s iconic bombshell but rather a gripping, sensitive coming-of-age drama set in Argentina. And yet, like Monroe, the film is not without its glamour — and its tragedy.

Based on true events, the film follows gay teen Marcos (Walter Rodríguez, in an excellent performance), who lives on a rural farm with his parents, Olga (Catalina Saavedra from “The Maid”) and Carlos (Germán de Silva), and brother Carlitos (Ignacio Giménez). He explores his sexuality and gender (and wardrobe choices) one summer with a quiet but determined courage.

Marcos’ first public walk on the wild side — dressing and acting like a seductive young woman for the town carnival — occurs, perhaps symbolically, after his father’s sudden death, which has jolted his strapped family.

But the boy’s liberation will come with a price in this provincial, outwardly macho world: Olga, who’s unwittingly fostered her son’s inclinations, monitors him with hyper-vigilance; local bullies, who dub Marcos “Marilyn,” turn brutal; and Carlitos forsakes his kid brother. Still, Marcos manages to find fleeting bliss with Federico (Andrew Bargsted).

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Masterfully directed by Martín Rodríguez Redondo, who wrote with Mariana Docampo and Mara Pescio, this brief, if deliberately paced picture, features far more silence than words: Dialogue is doled out “as needed” while those silences, which simmer with loaded looks and pointed observations, speak volumes.

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‘Marilyn’

In Spanish with English subtitles

Rating: Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Starts April 26, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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