To this day there is still a lot of mystique and gossip about Marilyn Monroe, especially for a person who has been departed for over fifty years. Her image was sexy without being promiscuous, vulnerable and sweet, yet confident and hopeful. Marilyn embodied the womanly ideal of her day and was hailed as a sort of American royalty that everyone loved and adored. Such an interesting and dramatic contrast practically begs for a film to be made. Thus, My Week with Marilyn (2011) was created.
Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), the nearest thing to royalty among British actors, is making a movie in London. Young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an eager film student, wants to be involved and through some bold negotiating he finds himself a job on the set. When film star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) arrives for the start of shooting, all of London is excited to see the blonde bombshell. When Olivier is struggling to meet her many demands and acting ineptness, Colin is intrigued by her. Colin’s intrigue is met when Marilyn invites him into her inner world where she struggles with her fame, her beauty, her loneliness, and her desire to be a great actress.
My Week with Marilyn is all based on real events. Colin and Marilyn did spend a week together during the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl while her husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), took a short trip back to the US. Olivier was at his wits end accommodating Marilyn’s apparent ineptitude, and Marilyn actually wasn’t able to accomplish much of anything without her acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker) and her business partner Milton H. Greene (Dominic Cooper). It was a tough and trying time for all involved. Frankly, it doesn’t make for a very interesting story, but it does makes for a fascinating character study and a unique look into the real Marilyn Monroe.
|The real Marilyn Monroe vs. Michelle Williams|
The best aspect of My Week with Marilyn has got to be Michelle Williams’ portrayal of the starlet. Marilyn had abandonment issues, sought a father figure, lacked confidence, acted glamorous and sexy, and exuded a lovable, feminine aura. There were so many facets to Marilyn that it would be a considerable challenge to portray this cultural icon, and Michelle Williams nailed it. She acts and looks the part so much it is truly uncanny and amazing to watch. There are times when she is very well composed and portraying Marilyn’s “public image” self, and other times when she is overwhelmed with depression and catatonic. Yet it’s still Marilyn. There’s scene when she and Colin are looking at a doll house, and she points to the doll family saying that the father is Colin, the mother is herself, and the kids are their children. Similar to how a little girl might project fantasies onto her toys. But coming from a thirty-year-old woman, it’s rather bizarre. The scene is important since it shows Marilyn’s desire for the normal family she’s never really had, while also showing us she’s a bit off kilter.
I’ve seen a couple of BBC movies, and I’ve noticed they seem to reuse a lot of actors. This isn’t bad, they are excellent actors. But I couldn’t help but notice actors that have played in Doctor Who, others from the Harry Potter films, and some have even been in both. Emma Watson appears as a wardrobe assistant that develops a relationship with Colin. It makes me wonder if Great Britain only has a handful of actors.
My Week with Marilyn teeters between interesting and tedious. Seeing Marilyn in such a diverse set of situations to show us what she’s really like is interesting, but at the same time it gets tedious and repetitious since everyone is exasperated and impatient with her by the end of most every scene she’s in. While the performances are excellent, the story (such as it is) tends to become sappy and doe-eyed from time to time. It’s got an R rating for some language, but apart from that it’s quite tame. I enjoyed watching it, and I recommend seeing it, but I don’t think it’s worth more than one viewing. Therefore, it’s a renter, albeit an intriguing one.
Admittedly, I'm not a big Marilyn Monroe fan. I like her photographs more than her movies. What is your favorite Marilyn Monroe moment? Comment below and tell me why!