My Week with Marilyn takes place in the early summer of 1956, set during the filming of the famous English film “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Naturally, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) played the showgirl, and the legendary stage actor Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) played the prince. The story is told through the point of view of one of the assistants working on the film, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who chronicled the experience of working with Monroe in a journal for the duration of filming “The Prince and the Showgirl.”
Nearly forty years after 1956 film was released, Clark’s diary account was published as “The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me.” Some years later, the one week missing from the diary was published as “My Week with Marilyn” which is the story told in the 2011 movie.
The movie begins following Clark and his passionate attempt to move away from his traditional British family and break into the film business. He gets a coveted position as the director’s third assistant. When filming was to begin, the star of the film Marilyn Monroe traveled to England for the film, and brought her new husband along, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). When Miller leaves England to return to America for a visit with his kids, Clark is free to introduce Monroe to some of the pleasures of British life. The idyllic week follows the growing feelings Clark has for Monroe, and vice versa. Monroe is desperate to escape the pressures of Hollywood and Clarks’ wistful fascination with Monroe brings the pair together for the week. Complications include Monroe’s husband, several jealous co-workers, Marilyn’s acting coach, and Sir Laurence Olivier as her costar, who gets increasingly frustrated with Monroe’s flakiness.
The story is intriguing mostly because of the element of truth it holds; the mysteries of Marilyn are peeled back slightly and we get a peek into what might have been her life. Marilyn’s varying personalities are portrayed brilliantly by Williams, whose complexity is riveting in the role. The way people reacted around Marilyn and how she acts because of it is incredible to watch. She attracts curiosity, yet feels uncomfortable with the attention on her personal life she must sacrifice to maintain the persona of Marilyn Monroe.
I’ll leave you with my favorite moment of the film, when Marilyn and Colin are being approached by group of applauding fans.
Marilyn turns to Colin and whispers, “Shall I be her?”
Colin wonders, “Who?”
Marilyn says with her staggering smile, “Marilyn!”