Making the Grades
Many people would claim Marilyn Monroe was the sexiest woman of all time. And none would deny the life of this shooting star was tragically turbulent. My Week With Marilyn is a movie based on a book written by Colin Clark—someone who had the opportunity to observe the “real” American legend both in front of and behind the camera.
Played by Eddie Redmayne, Colin is a young man anxious to make a name for himself in the world of cinema. (In reality Colin Clark went on to become a documentary filmmaker.) Leaving family comfort and connections behind (his father was Sir Kenneth Clark, a notable art historian), the eager twenty-three-year-old applies for a job as assistant director for the famous Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh).
As luck would have it, the tenacious youth impresses the knighted thespian just in time to work on his upcoming movie, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring none other then the beautiful bombshell.
Yet life in the film industry isn’t quite as glamorous as he had imagined. However, cheap hotel accommodations, early mornings, late nights and long hours prove to be the least of Colin’s challenges after he meets the sexy starlit. An emotional rollercoaster, Marilyn is never on time for rehearsals for shoots, crying or terrified when she has to act, and completely incapable of doing anything by herself without a pep talk from her acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker). Then, every once in a while, she will give a truly amazing performance. (Who would have thought playing s dumb blonde could be so exacting?)
Colin gets caught up in the ride when the married woman begins flirting with him. And he is naive enough to happily believe he is becoming an indispensible source of peace in her harried life.
Michelle Williams does a wonderful job of portraying the immortal Marilyn, from seductive to suicidal. Still, family viewers should be aware that the gorgeous showgirl drops her clothes a couple of times (bare back, shoulder and buttock nudity are seen). She also makes no secret of relationships she has had with other men, as well as her present husband, playwright Arthur Miller. In one scene it is implied that she has taken too much of a prescription medication and some serious health concerns arise. And then there are the frequent profanities, including a strong sexual expletive, that are used throughout the script.
While it is hard to tell how much of the story is fact and how much a young man’s fantasy, the film does offer a compelling look at this public icon, and the power the media has to make or break those whom it honors with its spotlight.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about My Week With Marilyn.
What do you think made Marilyn Monroe the star she became. How do you feel about her personal problems? Why does fame often exact such a toll on the lives of those who enjoy it? Can you think of others who are or have struggled with this challenge?
If you could meet your favorite celebrity, what would you do? What places would you want to take them? What makes that person so interesting to you?