As Andy Warhol well understood, Marilyn Monroe was a particularly modern type of celebrity, better known as an image than any character she played. His screenprinted portraits of her traded on her iconic power, demonstrating in popular culture as well as in silkscreen ink, that where it concerned Marilyn there was no such thing as over-saturation. Monroe’s entire persona, of course, was already a media creation, a role carefully crafted with platinum blonde curls, an alliterative stage name, a wink, and a smile. Since her death in 1962, there has been no shortage of actresses, Vegas imitators, and drag queens that have assumed the part, all to varying degrees of camp, yet beyond any historical interest a filmmaker would have in examining the sensationalist details of her life, her story also occasions a look into the nature of contemporary image-making itself.
Unfortunately Simon Curtis’s My Week with Marilyn, the latest film to tackle the subject, sticks mostly to biopic terrain, though initially, at least, it addresses the disjunction between Monroe’s public face and her stormy private life. Read Genevieve Yue’s review of My Week with Marilyn.