Isabelle Adjani and the Duality of Marilyn

Writing for the Girls On Tops website, Olympia Kiriakou examines the iconic French actress Isabelle Adjani’s latest role in her one-woman show, Marilyn Vertigo.

“Adjani’s fascination with Monroe grew from a series of ‘mystical’ connections over the course of her 52 year career. In her Elle interview, she reveals that while filming Tout feu, tout flamme in 1982 with Monroe’s Let’s Make Love co-star, Yves Montand, he confessed that she reminded him of the late actress. Years later during a photoshoot for Egoïste magazine in the early 1990s, Richard Avedon placed a shearling coat that belonged to Monroe on her shoulders. Adjani recalls that moment as being a ‘skin to skin’ meeting, a description that invokes an intimate bond between the two women. Monroe’s tumultuous childhood is also deeply personal for Adjani … ‘childhood trauma creates a deep desire, a vital need to be someone else … That’s what I did, that’s what Norma Jeane did by creating Marilyn Monroe.’

In Le Vertige Marilyn, Adjani draws upon her own vulnerability to explore that of her subject … Her cadence is hypnotic; she speaks in a breathy tone typical of her acting style and that of Monroe’s own performative voice, and their vocal similarities are magnified when paired with audio clips from Monroe’s unfinished film from 1962, Something’s Got to Give. In a further nod to the duality of Adjani’s performance, her hair remains its signature dark shade with bangs.”

At left, Adjani with Montand in 1982; and at right, posing for Avedon in 1994

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