The Monroe Dilemma: My Week with Marilyn (2011)

My Week with Marilyn is based upon Colin Clark’s memoirs on his relationship with Monroe during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Since Monroe was a tragic figure whose public persona contributed to her ultimate downfall I expected My Week with Marilyn to expose this tragedy, however it mostly contributed to Monroe’s glamour image.

My Week with Marilyn began establishing Colin as the misfit of his family. Whereas his Father is an Art Historian and his Brother a Military Historian, Colin’s desire for film making disgusted his family. As much emphasis is placed on Colin breaking from family tradition I assumed it would coincide with later plot points yet this was to no avail, one of many flaws within My Week with Marilyn. It swiftly moves onto Colin asserting himself into the film industry which is made both admirable and entertaining through a montage of scenes. It might be enjoyable to watch yet it was another flaw as it only filled time before reaching Colin’s relationship with Monroe. Once Monroe is first glimpsed My Week with Marilyn falls into a clich├ęd trap of reflecting her physical beauty more than her physiological vulnerability. Parading around in public places and being playful towards Colin reaffirmed well-established viewpoints of Monroe, there was nothing intriguing about her representation. Once Colin’s relationship with Monroe develops, there are interludes into her psyche whilst appealing do not delve deep enough. In one scene Colin has to comfort Monroe reeling from a sexist comment and later she confides with him that “all people ever see is Marilyn Monroe”. These are meant to be a profound insight into Monroe’s psyche yet My Week with Marilyn proves itself to be a contradiction. If this was a profound statement then Colin would not have been infatuated with Monroe simply because she was a sex symbol and My Week with Marilyn would have not glamorised her.

The only sincere response from Colin and Monroe’s relationship in particular her representation as a sex symbol was Colin’s interactions with Lucy, a co-worker. She was the object of Colin’s affections before dropping her for Monroe which understandably made Lucy upset. Running back to Lucy after his Monroe relationship reaches its decline, Lucy swiftly rejects him before asking if Monroe broke his heart. When he responds Lucy boldly answers “good, it needed breaking”. Lucy’s response was a powerful moment which challenged previous contradictions regarding Monroe’s representation as Colin’s obsessive gaze came at a serious price. This earnest moment is what I hoped My Week with Marilyn would contain, however it hindered itself on overly glamorising Monroe instead of truly revealing her vulnerability.

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