Movie #30: My Week With Marilyn

Starting out as the young, misunderstood, blonde, Jen Lindley on Dawson’s Creek, it’s interesting how Michelle Williams has come full circle to play the ultimate young misunderstood blonde as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn. I’m not really a Marilyn fan, being that of her movies I’ve only seen Some Like It Hot, but it’s hard to escape her legend. It still confounds me that so many films and TV movies are made about her life, though. If this movie is any indication, she was fascinating but her allure was not found in her thoughts and experiences. This movie takes a look at a brief part of Marilyn history when she was filming The Prince and the Showgirl in London under the direction of Sir Laurence Olivier (played by one of my favourite actors, Kenneth Branagh). I guess this episode stands out because we get to see Marilyn against the backdrop of a prim and proper British dramatic community that was still slowly emerging from the theatre stage onto the sound stage. This is Marilyn as fish-out-of-water. The central character (who is easily and obviously eclipsed by Williams’s Marilyn) is Colin Clark (played by British up-and-comer Eddie Redmayne — he’s heading to the film version of Les Miz next to play romantic lead, Marius), who was a well-provided young man hungry for a career in the motion picture industry. His eagerness and youthful charm got him a job as third assistant director on the film (as well as a brief time dating the costume girl played by Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson). As essentially a gopher, he ended up doing little things to help Marilyn get acclimated on the set and the two of them got closer. Again, I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it seemed that everyone from Olivier to Clark instantly fell in love with Marilyn the moment she walked into a room. Despite a pretty subtle performance by Redmayne, it was clear that Clark was quietly worshipping Marilyn every moment that they were together. Nevertheless, this is not a romance movie. Instead, a lot of the time is spent on Marilyn and her fragile ego and frail personality. Again, I don’t know much about Marilyn, so I can’t comment on whether Williams gave an accurate imitation, but from where I was sitting she was quite amazing and seemed to have totally lost herself in the character. I found myself falling for Marilyn/Michelle’s combination of sexiness, vulnerability, and feigned helplessness. I guess it’s a sign of how intense her attractiveness is that even as she infuriated Olivier with her lateness, inability to learn lines, and general lack of professionalism, he too forgave it all and watched her scenes with dewy-eyed admiration. Clark would eventually have his heart broken by her as well, but it all came out like a rite of passage. We are left with the feeling that Marilyn was some kind of emotional dream that comes and is gone from a person’s life, leaving behind intensely bittersweet memories. Even as I write this I am caught up in a kind of dreaminess and nostalgia that this movie does a wonderful job of conveying. I had not been a Williams fan since her days on Dawson’s Creek (mostly because her role choices didn’t appeal) and I had not previously seen anything by director Simon Curtis, but considering how they’ve been able to cast such a spell with a story that I normally wouldn’t find very interesting, they’ve both clearly got some tricks up their sleeves. (4.5 out of 5)

30 down, 20 to go!


2 thoughts on “Movie #30: My Week With Marilyn”

  1. Thanks for the comment, Amanda. It’s nice to hear from someone who is familiar with Marilyn. I’m glad that you confirmed my impressions of Williams’s excellent performance. Your review was also interesting, pointing out many of the details that a Marilyn fan would notice. Thanks for sharing.

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