Marilyn Monroe's story is one that has been told time and time again. Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino played the role in 1996's Norma Jean & Marilyn, and now, on the heels of Michelle Williams playing the part of the wayward actress, both Angelina Jolie and Naomi Watts have film projects in the works. And so it seems that the tragedy of a beautiful woman with no self-confidence is a tale that audiences cannot get enough of.
Because the actress' life was so storied and so filled with love affairs, it makes sense that My Week With Marilyn should only focus on one film from her career, 1957's The Prince and the Showgirl. The basis for Adrian Hodges' script was Colin Clark's (played by Eddie Redmayne in the film) memoir, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me. Although many are skeptical of the veracity of Clark's assertions about being with Marilyn beyond a standard level of professionalism, it isn't a wild stretch of the imagination to believe that she might have a dalliance with the third assistant director--in spite of only just having married Arthur Miller (played by Dougray Scott in the film, who you may remember from Ever After starring Drew Barrymore).
Colin, at 23 years old, is still somewhat naive, especially to the world of the film industry. Never dreaming that he could have a chance with Miss Monroe, he pursues the wardrobe girl, Lucy (Emma Watson, trying her best to find an identity outside of Hermione). However, as Marilyn begins to take an interest in Colin, he loses all interest in everything else except her. In a syndrome similar to Michael Jackson's, Marilyn was fascinated and allured by youth and innocence because she herself never had a real childhood or a stable home life. Thus, her attraction to Colin.
As the two grow closer, she confides to him, "All people ever see when they look at me is Marilyn Monroe. When they see that I'm not, they run." It is a confession that is emotionally evocative, revealing so much of why the actress was dependent on people who easily manipulated her, namely Paula Strasberg (played by Zoë Wanamaker in the film) and the co-head of her production company, Milton H. Greene (played by Dominic Cooper in the film). Her constant craving for love that felt genuine is conveyed with eloquent grace by Michelle Williams, whose performance is, frankly, the most notable aspect of the film.
Her natural state of loneliness and confusion was magnified by being in a place like London, England, where people can come across as particularly cold and unfeeling. Marilyn's relationship with Colin is what kept her sane and got her through the shoot. Her fresh marriage to Arthur Miller was also getting off to a tumultuous start after Marilyn found some offensive remarks about her in a journal that Miller left out in plain sight. This turn of events prompts him to head back to New York, causing Marilyn to ask of Colin, "Why does everyone I love leave me?"
The only person, or faction of people really, that never left Marilyn was her legion of fans. The adoration she sought remains a strong presence even today, as evidenced by the continued interest in biopics such as this. Regardless of how neurotic and insecure she may have been, it was that very vulnerability that has kept the masses intrigued by her for all of these decades.