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
The Dark Side of Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn (DVD)
Member Name: cyberem78
My Week with Marilyn (DVD)
Advantages: Top cast.
Disadvantages: Williams isn't sexy or charming enough.
My mum is a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe and had read the book of the same name which this movie is based on (by author Colin Clark) and so she was eager to see this film. I was impressed that the movie had been so critically acclaimed with lead actress Michelle Williams nominated for an Acadamy Award for her role. With this in mind my mum and I sat down to watch the movie together.
This film is a 2011 release and stars Michelle Williams as actress Marilyn Monroe. The movie is based on author Colin Clark's account of Marilyn's time spent in the UK filming 'The Prince and The Showgirl'. Colin is played by Eddie Redmayne and he is a dedicated 'gopher' on the movie set who falls under Marilyn's spell. A host of other well known actors feature in this movie including Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Dougray Scott as playwright Arthur Miller as well as Judi Dench, Harry Potter's Emma Watson, Derick Jacobi and Zoe Wanamaker.
As far as the casting goes it was interesting to see as many familiar faces and especially because all of these actors are at the top of their professsion. Branagh's performance was particularly good and Eddie Redmayne impressed as Colin with a youthful enthusiasm that was endearing. Where I was a little less impressed was unfortunately with Michelle Williams playing Marilyn. Let me be straight here - Williams doesn't do a Meryl Streep and try and impersonate Marilyn down to the very last fine detail but I wonder if I'd be more impressed by her if she had done. Whilst Williams captures Marilyn's flaws excellently I didn't find she was able to capture the sexiness, sparkle or ethereal magic that made Marilyn who she was. To me this is an essential quality any actress playing Marilyn needs since it's the biggest reason why anyone loves Marilyn. Perhaps I'm being a little too picky since there has only ever been one Marilyn Monroe but the way that Williams plays Marilyn means I went away thinking what a diffficult, crazy woman this actress must have been and almost forgot about her ability to spellbind me in her movies. One particular issue I had regarding this is when footage is shown of Williams as Marilyn acting in 'The Prince and The Showgirl' and all of the other characters are fawning over how great it is and 'oohing' and 'awwwing' but to me what they are watching is rather forced and sexless. I mean I've seen the real movie starring Marilyn and the way she plays even the simplest of scenes is fascinating and spellbinding. The recreation of these scenes in 'My Week With Marilyn' is unimpressive.
The details of Marilyn's on set erratic behaviour, her ill-fated marriage to Arthur Miller and her attempts to become a mother are probably well known to many people as they were to me. I therefore wasn't surprised by any of the revelations about Marilyn's life as depicted here. I did come away from the movie though with a less than respectful feeling towards the actress, despite always having admired her work beforehand. This is partly due to the fact that Colin's 'week with Marilyn' is a kind of trainwreck of an experience. As I said, Williams is wonderful at playing a Marilyn who is damaged and vulnerable it's this aspect of her performance which is most memorable despite some finely tuned song and dance numbers which supposedly show how awesome and capable a star Marilyn really is.
The rest of the cast are impressive although again some of the meaning and impact of the story are lost by details such as casting a rather plain looking Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh. I am unfamiliar with Eddie Redmayne but he is a very interesting and competent lead.
The story is quite fascinating too with events beginning when the rich and priviledged Colin wants to work in the movies. I thought it was a good idea though that the notion of the influence of money and social status is played down in favour of establishing a more down to earth young grafter in the lead role. We then see what problems Marilyn caused on set and the impact of her strained relationship with Olivier. Colin's more intimate relationship with Marilyn is also recounted but I felt that the magic Colin must have felt regarding this rendezvous is overshadowed by the dark side of Marilyn being exposed. To me Marilyn comes across as a character who is perhaps more cruel than she is helpless.
Whilst the movie held my attention until the end I did feel slightly underwhelmed by it all. Some of the best moments of the film involve Kenneth Branagh's Olivier and his inability to control his temper and frustration towards Marilyn. My mum commented that she thinks Naomi Watt's might have played the part a little better and to be honest I agree with that. A little more sex appeal and allure is what is needed and whilst Michelle Williams gives a dedicated and professional performance she simply doesn't capture the shining movie star side of Marilyn.
Summary: Slightly underwhelming but watchable and has a great cast.