Entertainment » Movies


by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Apr 22, 2019

The Argentinian drama "Marilyn" is based on a true story. First-time director Martín Rodríguez Redondo brings it to cinematic life.

Teenage Marcos (Walter Rodríguez) lives in a remote part of Argentina on his family's dairy farm with his parents and his elder sibling. They barely eke out a living. Whilst his mother Olga (Catalina Saavedra), toughened by their daily existence, is insistent that Marcos becomes a farm laborer, his father Carlos (Germán de Silva) wants to see him get an education and do something more than tend cattle and make cheese.

Unfortunately, the father drops dead from the mounting stress facing the farm now that there are armed rustlers stealing and killing cattle in the area. With the mother barely unable to keep the farm going, all talk of Marcos finishing his education is pushed aside.

Marcos takes his only pleasure from secretly dressing up in his mother's clothes and posing in the mirror in his room. As she has taught him how to handle a sewing machine, he is soon running up an outfit to wear to the local carnival in town. Despite the fact he easily passes as a pretty young girl, he still spotted by some local youths who have always taunted him for being so effeminate and call him Marilyn. This time they follow him home and violently rape him before abandoning him by the roadside.

Struggling home in the early hours of the morning, beaten and bruised but at least changed back into his regular clothes, he is confronted by his very angry mother. She searches his room and grabs all the female clothing that he has hidden away, then and throws it all on the fire. Keeping a closer eye on him, she thinks this will be the end of the matter.

However, after another visit from the rustlers the farm's owners give the family notice to quit and recommend that they apply for a place in a new housing project for working families in town. When they go to investigate, Marcos finds more than a new house waiting for him: There's also Fede (Andrew Bargsted), the son of the local convenience store owner, who takes an instant shine to him.

With Fede, he can finally explore his sexuality. As the two starts to bond, Marcos is surprised - and also jealous - that Fede's parents are completely accepting of them as a couple. When he tries to imitate the scenario and invite Fede back to a meal with his family, it all goes horribly wrong.

Martín Rodríguez Redondo's impressive debut feature film makes for a powerful contribution to the impressive body of Argentinian queer cinema. The film illustrates the devastating effects of institutional oppression on LGBTQ youth. The ending startles and shocks - all the more so given that the story is not fiction.

Kudos to Rodriguez for his finely nuanced performance that shows a maturity way beyond his years, The fact that this is his very first role makes it even more impressive.

"Marilyn" deserves to be seen by audiences beyond the LGBTQ circuit, as it offers a message that needs to be shared.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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