Honest Abe Says: 1 Star
Dynamite performances and sweetness notwithstanding, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN's source material is more fiction than fact.
In 1995, Colin Clark, a lowly third assistant director for Laurence Olivier in 1956, published his diary, "The Prince, the Showgirl and Me," a fly on the wall, behind the scenes account of his unique experience on the set of THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL. In it, he documents the tension between starlet Marilyn Monroe and the rest of the cast and crew, including Olivier. Five years later in 2000, Clark published a second work on the subject - a memoir detailing the nine-day period during filming that he claims a romantic fling occurred, with none other than Ms. Monroe herself, the most famous and desirable woman in the world. The memoir, "My Week With Marilyn," was the chief source for director Simon Curtis and writer Adrian Hodges's film by the same name.
Michelle Williams delivers an Academy Award-nominated performance as the titular bombshell, and backed by Kenneth Branagh as Olivier and young Eddie Redmayne as Colin, the film has garnered a smattering of award consideration. It's also been subject to accusations that it's nothing but lies and pure fantasy.
What It Got Right:
For a movie steeped in speculation, or perhaps, the imagination of its real life protagonist, many of its claims can be corroborated. The players on set were all actually there, from the ubiquitous Paula Strasberg - Marilyn's hands on acting coach, to Milton Greene - her adoring (or obsessive) business partner, to Arthur Miller - her new husband. Marilyn was extraordinarily difficult on the set. Aside from her perpetual lateness and failure to adequately perform her takes, frustrating Olivier to no end, she began drinking heavily - even in the mornings - and relied on pills to keep her going. She also discovered Miller's diary in their room, likely left out on purpose by Miller, which contained some scathing remarks about Marilyn, including the fact that he was ashamed to love her, as she later told Strasberg.
What It Got Wrong:
Labeling plot points and intricacies "wrong" in terms of veracity cannot be confirmed by supporting sources. The tale is Colin Clark's, and whatever happened between he and Marilyn was not shared for another forty-four years with anyone who wasn't in that bedroom. However, many have spoken up since then, most in opposition to Clark's claims. Milton Greene's (played by Dominic Cooper in the film) son Joshua Greene took the opportunity to insult Clark, who died in 2002, when asked about it, calling him a "fourth-rate water boy," seeming personally offended that Clark and Monroe could have ever had an affair. Curtis spoke to THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL's script supervisor, and Vera Day, who had a part in the film, though neither said much by way of Colin Clark. Day did mention that Monroe and Arthur Miller (played by Dougray Scott) "were glued together on set all the time." And when Miller was absent, Monroe had her entourage as her closest companions. Not a single one of Monroe's friends or colleagues have memories of she and Clark.
Dr. Margaret Hohenberg, Marilyn's analyst, was flown in to help provide some stability and combat bouts with depression. In the film, Colin fills this need. He's also there for her following her miscarriage. But an examination of Clark's first published diaries reveals he learned of the miscarriage second hand. In his 2000 publication, he knows of it before anyone else does, contradicting his diaries. The miscarriage occurred on September 8, while Miller was back home in New York, according to the book and the film. But in actuality, Miller returned to England on September 5, making it impossible for Clark to have been alone with her during this time.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, though a nice little coming of age story, is a fabrication, it would appear. While truths exist in Curtis's film and his characters behave in the manner we have on record, there are enough sources disputing the validity of the story. Clark's own two published works on the matter suggest as much. Even Clark's brother, diarist and former parliament member Alan Clark, called Colin a liar. The film is presented not as fantasy, but rather, truth. That truth, evidently, was relative only to Colin Clark.
“Colin Clark (1932-2002) was the younger brother of the British Conservative Party MP Alan Clark (1928-1999).”