My Week With Marilyn
Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench
Before I begin my review….
Now this is one movie I was really sceptical about.
This had nothing to do with whether I liked the story, director or actors, it was completely to do with the love that I have for the late movie stars who are being portrayed in My Week With Marilyn. I am a massive fan of Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. I have so much Olivier and Leigh love that when my husband and I go to Gloria Jeans or Starbucks and they ask for our names for our order, we will more than likely give our names as Vivien and Larry.
It is a strange thing watching actors who’s work you are familiar with portray other actors on screen who you are not only familiar with their work, but you have done so much reading into their lives that you feel like you know the person they were. You can either leave the cinema in a rage at the way they have been represented, or you can praise the actors who were portraying them for doing them complete justice.
Luckily in this case, I am praising the actors. Particularly Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh who do deserve their Academy Award nominations for their portrayals of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. Although if I had to be picky, I’m still not 100% convinced that Williams had Monroe’s raspy but sweet voice perfected, but that is being very picky. She had everything else about Monroe that we know perfected.
So I am happy with the character portrayal of these actors I love so much. It was just like watching my dear friends on the big screen.
My Week With Marilyn is one of those films where the story line may not be terribly strong, but the performances are.
Based on the memoirs of the same name by Colin Clark, Clark’s first book entitled “The Prince, The Showgirl and Me” may have been better to make into a movie than “My Week With Marilyn”. The same characters which would mean the same brilliant performances, but the weakest part of the film, which is the romantic relationship between Clark and Marilyn Monroe would be put to the side. Mind you, this is almost what happens in the film anyway.
The year is 1957 and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is the biggest movie star in the world. Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) scores the dream job of working on the set of Monroe’s latest film project, The Prince and The Showgirl with his hero, Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Colin gets the witness the way a film is made, but also gets the witness the dynamics of the cast and crew, in particular Monroe and Olivier’s fiery working relationship. Colin falls under Monroe’s spell, as he becomes the shoulder she leans on throughout the film.
One of the big faults with My Week With Marilyn is that you really don’t feel like you get that much out of Colin’s week with her. It is true that you get a taste for who Monroe really was behind all the glitz and glamour and realise her fight to be seen as more than just a sex symbol, but it almost feels like it is just a waste of time putting any emphasis at all on the relationship between her and Colin.
The screenplay and storyline does also lack a considerable amount of depth. There are no really emotional moments in the film and no real longing by the audience to find out as quickly as possible what is going to happen. However, the film makes up for it in the character development and performances of the main characters. A considerable amount of research has been done on the film as to who all the characters were when they were alive and filming The Prince and The Showgirl. Of course, research does come easier when the film is based on memoirs, and there is a tremendous amount of literature out there about these actors.
My Week With Marilyn is, rather than being a script driven film, very much a character driven film, particularly that of Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams does a wonderful job of bringing Monroe back to the big screen. She has the walk perfected, the body language and the facial expressions all down to a tee. Her voice doesn’t quite match Monroe’s, but she is forgiven for this considering she gets so much else right. The best part about her performance is how much emotion she brings to her performance. Towards the end of the film, you almost forget that you are watching Williams and not Monroe. She brings Monroe back to life and we get to see straight into her soul and you don’t just see Monroe, but you also see Norma Jeane.
Kenneth Branagh is also brilliant as Sir Laurence Olivier. He gives an intense and electronically charged performance. There are moments you know you should dislike him, but his intensity is just so brilliant.
However, the role of Colin Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne couldn’t possibly be any easier for him. He speaks of how much he loves Monroe, but he is just like a love struck teenager who just grins idiotically at his idol. Those Harry Potter fans who are eager to see Emma Watson in this film as Colin’s initial love interest, Lucy would be disappointed. It is such a bland role and completely useless in the large scope of the film.
My Week With Marilyn is a not a strong film, but a film with strong performances by Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh. Granted, Marilyn Monroe fans will love it.