Melding facts with fiction, Misfit is a fascinating exploration of the many personas of Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic figures in the history of Hollywood, and her legendary work on the big screen is eclipsed only perhaps by the lengend of her life off it. Adam Braver’s Misfit centers on the last weekend of Monroe’s life, which she spent at Frank Sinatra’s resort, the Cal Neva Lodge, in Lake Tahoe. Melding facts with fiction, Braver takes moments throughout Monroe’s life—her childhood, her marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, her studies with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and her role in The Misfits, the film Miller wrote for her—and explores how they informed her tragic end.
In his latest historical reimagining (after taking on JFK's assassination in his novel Nov 22, 1963), Braver explores Marilyn Monroe's fatal struggle to simultaneously maintain her personal identity and her public image. The novel is set during the last weekend of Monroe's life, an ill-fated attempt to "disappear for a while" to Frank Sinatra's Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe and escape the demands of Hollywood's "industry clowns." From that dark, paranoid weekend, Braver delves into the events of Monroe's past from being discovered by an army photographer while working in a wartime factory through her failed marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller injecting each scene with a swelling sense of melancholia. We see her wrestling with image and reality both at her wedding to DiMaggio, in which her gaze towards the cameras reveals "not romance but the belief in it," and in her therapy sessions where she realizes that her old life as "Norma Jeane was ended years ago." Seamlessly blending fact and fiction, Braver penetrates the vivacious veneer of Monroe's on-screen persona to reveal a woman so adept at embodying a role, that "it swallows her whole." Through his gradual unfolding of Monroe's painful upbringing and her desire to be taken seriously in a world that values the superficial, Braver makes Monroe's tragic end freshly poignant.