The heavily anticipated British biopic My Week with Marilyn follows Colin Clark, an Oxford graduate played by Eddie Redmayne, as he uses his family connections to land a job as an assistant in Laurence Olivier’s disastrous production of The Prince and The Showgirl. Kenneth Branagh‘s portrayal of the raving lunatic is difficult to watch as he picks his costar apart line by line. A diary written by Clark about the tumultuous collaboration of Marilyn Monroe and Olivier uncovers a week when Monroe runs away from set to enjoy the simple life she abandoned.
During Clark’s time as a confidante he eventually won over Monroe’s trust as he escorted her on outings upon her husband’s departure. According to Clark’s recollections he saw a glimpse of the star’s mental state during the sunset of her marriage to Arthur Miller, played by Dougray Scott, thus leading to her downward spiral in the late 50s. We’ve all heard of her troubles and being prone tardiness, but when director Simon Curtis reached beyond the headlines he was able to reveal to us the vulnerable side to Ms. Monroe that made her personable, yet ironically unattainable. Controversy behind whether Colin Clark fabricated the whimsical romance in his diaries may discredit certain events. Although it is the uncanny resemblance, as well as mirroring body language and facial expression between Michelle Williams and Monroe that help deliver a performance that stunned the people who knew Monroe and the mass audience who continue to admire and emulate her.
Williams beautifully grasped the more enchanting side to Marilyn; a graceful side to her that made millions fall in love with the icon.Julia Ormond‘s character of actress Vivien leigh, who was also Olivier’s wife at the time, felt intimidated by the star and grew insecure about her tainted beauty in comparison even though she is a legend in her own right since starring as Blanche DuBois in the unmatched classic A Streetcar Named Desire. Leigh admits that Monroe could only play the character of the Showgirl not only because of her beauty, but the raw elegance and vivaciousness she exudes when the cameras are rolling. Throughout the film Clark doesn’t appear to be naive, but eventually his love for Monroe overshadows his attraction to wardrobe assistant Lucy (Emma Watson) and it pulls him under a spell any man fell victim to if they opened their hearts to her. Watching Redmayne’s performance is equally as heartbreaking as Williams’ little girl lost moments. Him pleading Monroe to leave the life that’s killing her in exchange for happiness with him outside of the spotlight was hopeless from the start, even after being warned by Monroe’s business partner Milton H. Greene (Dominic Cooper) about the familiar path his foolish choices may lead him down.
The alter-ego that captivated an entire generation and influenced the sex symbol popular culture in America is the true star of the film, not the secrets that she had hidden from the public which Clark was privy to, as he witnessed an important time in her life firsthand. Its the certain aire a mystery that transformed small town Norma Jean Baker the woman into Marilyn Monroe the hollywood legend. Laurence latched onto the fictional character Monroe played into in hopes of regaining his youth and in the process caged her into the career-ending, typecast trap other directors did before him. Monroe’s purest dream was to be a great actress who was taken seriously and not just a Hollywood star that could be walked on. Her childhood is a memory that Monroe could never erase and it’s the things she lacked like love and security that haunted her until her very last years. This tale shows us the escapist in Monroe that ended up engulfing her in the fantasy life, it was an appetite she’d never come to satisfy.
Cat Milagro Geissler is a 21 year old student journalist from Laredo, Texas.
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