Venezuela's submission for "Best Foreign Language Film" for the 2009 Academy Awards®.
Magaly (Elaiza Gil) enters a TV contest looking for Marilyn Monroe look-alikes, pressured by her husband (Alberto Alifa) and a money prize of $25,000 to help them overcome their precarious financial situation. During the casting for the contest, Magaly meets Norma, her strongest and cheating competitor, a voluptuous version of Marilyn, and Rossel, the sponsor, a well-suited millionaire who is sure about conquering her. Looking for an adviser for the contest, Magaly and Arturo find Hector, a transvestite that believes himself to be Monroe's reincarnation. He tries to do with Magaly what he can't do with himself as a man: to become the real Marilyn Monroe. In the process of becoming Marilyn Monroe, Magaly suffers an identity crisis that mimics the life of the mythical blonde.
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The Color of Fame wants to be a comedy, and does strike that note occasionally, but it succeeds in becoming little more than a cautionary tale smothered by the trappings of convention and falling far short of finding an original vein.
Any tale of a contest in Caracas--or in any city--in search of a Marilyn Monroe look-alike may be doomed to cliche from the start, especially if the poor girl is encouraged by the poor boy to do all she can to win the twenty-five grand prize. He discovers how little control he can wield with the high-roller boss wooing his woman, telling her to stick with him and she too can find fame like Marilyn. Her true love (as he is hers) races through the city and arrives in time to wrap her in his arms and save her from leaping from the roof. They have realized love is more important than money, that the color of fame may well be the color of death, living or dead.
There are a few fine moments in the film. The opening sequence provides one of the best: a cab driver with a voice to match Pavarotti's loses his look-alike chance because he can't resist unleashing his voice and is thereby disqualified, resulting in his suicide. A little later, in the midst of impending eviction and nothing left to do but compete for the prize, the girl and her boy meet a female impersonator who convinces her he knows enough about Marilyn Monroe, his alter ego, to ensure she will win the prize. Another interesting moment occurs when the boy rises from the bed after making love and watches the girl sleeping and turning in bed until she reproduces through his eyes the famous nude calendar. Then there's the contest finale when the girl takes the stage naked--called onstage impromptu after she discovering her Marilyn dress stolen and worn by her competitor, the eventual winner. This sequence echoes, for different reasons, the finale of Robert Altman's Ready to Wear (his 1994 homage to the fashion world), all the models taking to the runaway and parading in the altogether. Though The Color of Fame is a better movie than Altman's (one of his weakest), it also recalls Nicolas Roeg's film Insignificance (1985), whose attempt to pair Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio with Albert Einstein and Joseph McCarthy results in little more than a literalization of its title, though Roeg's fim promises more because it strives for more than the one at hand.
In short, the Venezuelan filmmakers involved with The Color of Fame needed to dig a bit deeper to come up with a more lively approach to a subject difficult to render but whose scintillating subject seems endlessly alluring.