Newest Review: ... think anything has been documented so recently that I would be familiar with. The films main storyline is simple, it follows Colin an... more
My Week with Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn (DVD)
Member Name: goldenbat666
My Week with Marilyn (DVD)
Advantages: Williams' spot-on portrayal of the lead character, intriguing plot full of drama and depth
Disadvantages: Repetitive plot strands
Marilyn Monroe is without a doubt one of the most celebrated, well-known figures of the 20th Century. Her platinum blonde hair, her sultry looks that ooze sex appeal, her breathy voice, her moves, her lifestyle, her love affairs, her films, her mysterious death have all combined to produce more than just an actress, more than a mere sex symbol, but a true American icon. An icon whose work is watched and admired even to this day, inspiring countless number of women to achieve similar greatness and fame. With this kind of baggage, it's no easy job to portray someone this famous on screen. "My Week with Marilyn," as its title may suggest, only explores a brief section of the star's life, but since she has accomplished so much, even the smallest slice in her showbiz-surrounded life is full of fun, romance and charm which is exactly what the film offers.
"The Prince and the Showgirl," shot in England, (in)famously united Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), a very talented actor who wanted to become a film star. Monroe, on the other hand, was hoping for the opposite. She already was the movie star, what she wanted then was to convince everyone that she was a serious actress. "The Prince and the Showgirl" was supposed to be a film to benefit both stars; however, this was not to be. The production was plagued with delays, miscommunication and discontent from Olivier, as he was far from impressed with Monroe's notoriously erratic behaviour on set that included tardiness, alcoholism and drug use. Whilst "My Week with Marilyn" does focus on the filming of their movie, caught in the middle of this drama is in fact Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), the third assistant director, whose job is to do all the grunt work around the film set. Captivated by Monroe even before her arrival in London, Clark's boyish enthusiasm and warm personality bring the two close together. Trapped in a less than satisfactory marriage to Arthuer Miller (Dougray Scott), Monroe finds comfort and solace in Clark's arms.
Being the most famous woman on Earth is no easy job, perhaps a task that is simply too overwhelming for a small-town girl who wanted to become a movie star. Success brings her money, luxury, fame and infinite love from crowds of random people, but for a price. Constantly harassed by photographers and journalists who want a snippet on every single aspect of her life, she finds her life too crowded and stressful. The pressure she faces in Pinewood Studios also starts to build up. Despite her method acting coach Paula Strasberg's (Zoe Wanamaker) never-ending confidence-boosting words, Marilyn finds her confidence shaken every time she stumbles on a line, further infuriating the already heated Olivier. Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench), is more forgiving and understanding, and as a woman of principle and disciplined manner, she exudes warmth as well as firm maternal presence to anyone who unreasonably crosses the line.
Getting close to Monroe is bound to catch the attention of everyone on the film set, and it's a relationship that cannot have a happy ending. Milton Greene (Dominic Cooper), Marilyn's business partner, warns Clark to not get involved. "She breaks hearts, she will break yours too," he warns. But what they share has very little to do with sex or lust. It's a strong friendship built on absolute trust, with the occasional moments of passion that build up from spending so much time together. Although there is unavoidable tragedy lurking around the corner, director Simon Curtis makes sure the atmosphere is always light enough and the breezy script supports this. There are comic moments, many in fact, despite the more serious subject matter that underlies the humour. As the infatuated Colin, Redmayne is a wholly likable central character, with his wide-eyed, somewhat childish fascination towards everything that is going on around him. He is a tall, handsome actor with immense appeal, with enough cheek and confidence that convincingly adds to his initially clueless character.
Without the outstanding, Oscar-calibrated performances, this would not have been a film worth watching. There are no words to describe just how superb Williams is in the role of Monroe. She has the looks (despite having a noticeably slimmer figure than the voluptuous figure the legendary Monroe possessed), the voice, the swagger, and the sassiness, but there is something so much more to her portrayal than what is visible on the surface. The behind-the-scenes Marilyn, the insecure, vulnerable and troubled superstar longing to be taken seriously, to be loved, and not quite ready to cope with all the uncomfortable sides the glitzy Hollywood life brings with it, Williams makes sure that Monroe is a human being after all, and that she is someone worth caring about. All of her insecurities, which is why she so heavily relies on pills and alcohol, are evident in Williams' masterful portrayal. But she's not all about the depressed, troubled Marilyn, as when her character gets her vibrant energy, she is delightful, glamorous, and eye-catching.
As for the invaluable supporting players, Cooper's slightly wonky American accent aside, everyone stands strong in their roles, with two of the greatest English actors working today, Branagh and Dench, living up to their usual high standards. Wanamaker, as Marilyn's ambitious acting coach who wants what is best for her most talent student, is stubborn and relentless, as she constantly clashes with Olivier regarding Marilyn's acting style. She believes in method acting, he does not. Emma Watson, in her first post-Potter role, has an interesting, but underused role of Colin's could-be girlfriend, and the two share a warm enough chemistry to show the audience a glimpse of possibility that Colin may be better off settling down for someone more to his standard. Although looking nothing like the wife of Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond does an admirable job as Vivien Leigh, in a crucial scene that she hints at her jealousy towards the much younger, sought-after Marilyn.
It's a light, breezy and pretty trek that gives us plenty of insight into the complicated life of Marilyn Monroe. We will never know the full extent of just how damaged and frightened she was of failing those around her, and just how lonely and isolated she must have felt. The film tries to show as many variations as possible, which can lead to quite a few repetitions. Marilyn feels down, she calls for Colin's help, he comes, calms her down, and she feels better. It's a routine that is both predictable and slightly tiresome after a while, but it's a film to watch simply for the numerous performances. Nominations should be flooding in towards the end of this year for Williams, and rightly so.
Summary: Despite covering a brief period in Monroe's life, Williams utterly shines in a magnificent role