Review: My Week With Marilyn
PLOT: Colin Clark came from a very rich family, yet he wanted to work his way into the wonderful world of motion pictures much to his parents’ dismay. Soon, he is able to land a job on the crew of Sir Laurence Olivier’s latest comedy called THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, starring Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Colin, being a long time fan of Ms. Monroe, finds himself falling for the actress while she seems to take comfort in his honesty. For the short time of production, the two developed a friendship which would bring the young man a lifetime of memories of his time with the legendary actress.
In the 1957 feature film THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, Marilyn Monroe shined in the role of a showgirl who falls for royalty. While the film wasn’t quite the success they were hoping for, it showcased how Marilyn could light up the silver screen. However, the making of this light comedy was a much more dramatic tale. Ms. Monroe had several problems at the time, which included showing up late on set and she was constantly taking pills to help her throughout the day. Her co-star, the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier criticized working with the actress during the production. It was not a match made in movie heaven.
Years later, one of the crew members wrote about his experience on the film. Colin Clark looked back on his time with Marilyn in two books including a set of diary entries now available as “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me.” MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is based on his writings. While the new Marilyn bio-flick is “based on a true story,” how much is historically factual we will probably never know. Yet rest assured if you are a fan of the actress, Michelle Williams brings Marilyn Monroe to life. v
It would be easy to discuss Ms. Williams’ performance for this entire review, but how about starting with the film itself. Director Simon Curtis enlivens MY WEEK WITH MARILYN with a bright and shining glow. As flawed and wounded as he subject is, he avoids the somberness and heartbreak that the film could have been. With a script by Adrian Hodges, the filmmakers create a modern day fairy tale in a sense. You can’t help but wonder if they didn’t fully believe what Mr. Clark claimed yet they sure as hell painted a charming look at the actress, Olivier and those on the set of PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL.
We first meet Colin (Eddie Redmayne) who is trying very hard to get a job with Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) on his latest picture. After much coaxing, he is hired on as the 3rd assistant director. During the production, Colin develops a bond with the film’s star, Marilyn Monroe. We see her as a superstar trying to be taken seriously as an actress, yet she is clearly having a few other issues, including a not very happy marriage to playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) and a questionable relationship with acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker). Marilyn finds solace with Colin, as the two decide to not show up for work and spend the day together at a lake. In fact, she tells him that he is one of the only people she can trust. His relationship with Marilyn soon puts his professional situation on the line as many of the cast and crew members are tired of the often difficult leading lady.
Is this romantic tale completely true? There are certainly doubts about how much of it is Mr. Clark’s selective memory. However there is something the movie does that is much more important than being one hundred percent factual. The most important offering MY WEEK WITH MARILYN brings us is the breathtaking performance of Michelle Williams. It would have been a simple task for an actor to merely copy Marilyn Monroe. Just recreate the look, work on the voice and maybe skim through a book or two, and just offer a caricature of the legendary actress. Yet Williams only has a slight resemblance to Monroe, although they did a good enough job of giving her the right look. What she brings to Marilyn is the essence and the vulnerability. It is an uncompromising performance that will assuredly garner attention at the Academy Awards. Also look for Judi Dench - who is outstanding as the sympathetic fellow thespian Dame Sybil Thorndike and yes, Emma Watson (Hermione from the HARRY POTTER Franchise) as a girl in the costume department that briefly captures Colin’s eye.
I fully enjoyed MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. This may simply be Colin Clark’s fairy tale, but it is a very pleasant one at that. Sure it is sentimental and sweet, and it might not have worked without Michelle Williams’ stellar performance, but every moment she is on screen you can’t take your eyes off her. I had my doubts about her bringing the vivaciously sexy Marilyn mixed with little girl lost Norma Jean (Marilyn’s real name) mythology to life. As good of an actress Ms. Williams is, I just wasn’t sure if she had it in her. Nevertheless, she has it in spades. True or not, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is an unabashedly romantic charmer with a stunning portrayal of the late, great Marilyn Monroe.