That’s the position 23-year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) winds up with after he talks himself onto the crew of The Prince and the Showgirl, directed by Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and headlined by Monroe (Michelle Williams).
Olivier was an Actor who thought his star to be nothing more than a body with two breasts and a mole, despite discouragement from Monroe’s acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker) and co-star Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench). It’s no wonder. She showed up late to set, forgot all of her lines, fought about her character’s motivations, and cozied up with pills.
Set five years before Monroe’s death, Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn can’t bother to mourn over her “probable suicide” and only vaguely hints at it. It is linked to that one week with Clark, who wrote the memoir The Prince, the Showgirl and Me about his experiences. Yet it can’t avoid recycling everything we’ve heard before, and so never gets to the point of shining any new light on Monroe.
Either does Michelle Williams, who was brave to take the role. Her performance exceeds mimicry, which is how many actresses have handled the role, but she, like Clark, seems incapable of penetrating the familiar.
Maybe that’s unavoidable, given Monroe’s stature. After Naomi Watts gives it a shot, no more Marilyn biopics.
The Untold Story of an American Icon (19:07): This featurette divides its time between The Prince and the Showgirl and its cast/crew and the cast, locations and music of My Week with Marilyn.