My Week With Marilyn (2011)
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Adrian Hodges
Based On: “My Week With Marilyn” & “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me” (Book) By: Colin Clark
Country: UK & USA
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 99 minutes
USA Release: 11/23/2011
On DVD (USA): 3/13/2012
Awards: 2 Academy Award Nominations, 6 BAFTA Award Nominations, 1 Golden Globe Win, 2 Golden Globes Nominations
One of the most iconic women to walk the planet is Marilyn Monroe. She is one of those people that even if you haven’t seen one of her films, you know who she is. You know her by her name, face and sweet and sultry personality, but is that everything that lies inside of the bombshell that is Marilyn Monroe? Although no one can every really embody Mrs. Monroe, Michelle Williams don the mole of the fun loving, hip swinging singer/actress in this drama. Will it show us anything we don’t already know about her? There is only one way to find out.
“My Week with Marilyn” tells the story of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who in the summer of 1956 gets a job on the set of the British film “The Prince and the Showgirl” (originally titled “The Sleeping Prince”) which stars Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Based on his 1995 & 2000 memoirs Clark shows us the difficulties during filming like the long waits and countless retakes as well as what he witnesses during his time alone with Marilyn.
Going into this if you’re a film buff then you may know about the many difficulties that the production of “The Prince and the Showgirl” faced and if you don’t you will definitely see after watching this. Director Simon Curtis and writer Adrian Hodges did a fantastic job of re-creating the set from that film as well as the added surprise of doing the same with some really great scenes in the movie. Although “The Prince and the Showgirl” was not the well received movie that Olivier was hoping for (although it did get 5 BAFTA nominations, it received no other major nominations), it did lead him and Monroe to their most well known roles in their next projects respectively. And while that part of the story seems the most true it’s the story told by Clark that sometimes seems farfetched. I hate to question his side of the story but it just seems a tad unlikely that he got to know Marilyn on that level but it was the late 50’s and security for mega stars wasn’t what it is today. Either way his side of the story is interesting, because we see a less familiar side to Monroe with all of her stress and insecurities, even though it can be seen as somewhat of a fantasy. I say that because like pretty much everyone during that time Monroe was put on a great pedestal and all of his side could have been fabricated, as I have heard some of his timeline doesn’t match with the true timeline of events in Monroe’s time abroad. Also some of the events told make no sense meaning some of the places they go during their supposed time alone together. Now I know it sounds like I’m bashing the movie, but that is not the case I thought the movie did an excellent job of telling this story it just seems like a fantasy something like “Me and Orson Welles” where some things were true but at the core it’s made up. And that doesn’t lie with the writer of the movie but with Clark, because why did he wait so long to write those books it seems pretty convenient that everyone from that time was probably dead so no one can really question the truth of his story. Anyways I’m getting off track this is about the movie not Clarks books, so moving on. Along with the flow of the story being put together well also was the cinematography that used the various sets to their advantage as well as the lighting when they were outside especially when they are by the pond.
The same can also be said for the score which used various songs from the time period along with a matching score. Williams’ also sang a couple of songs that can be heard at the beginning and end of the movie. As for the cast, there are many great performances across the board from the supporting to the main. In the supporting we had such actors as Judi Dench (as Dame Sybil Thorndike), Emma Watson (as Lucy a wardrobe assistant), Dougary Scott (as Arthur Miller), Dominic Cooper (as Milton H. Greene), Zoe Wanamaker (Paula Strasberg) and Julia Ormond (as Vivien Leigh). Most of them came in and out though various scenes but unfortunately weren’t seen as much as I would have liked especially Dench, but all delivered really great performances. Another supporting player but with a much bigger part is Kenneth Branagh who played Sir Laurence Olivier which is fitting because Branagh is like this generation Olivier as they both do a lot of films dealing with Shakespeare. Anyways Branagh did an excellent job as Olivier, bringing across the somewhat hostile personality that was more than well known. As was his lack of understanding the art of “method” acting and also frustration with people who use it. But it’s the next performers that are the main focus of this movie. Eddie Redmayne who plays Colin Clark narrates and guides us through his time on the set of the film. We see his love of cinema and for Monroe and how his background is what got him the job on set in the first place. As always it’s who’s in your family and who your family knows. Even so Redmayne conveys the coming of age side fairly well and also gives us an added sense of innocence hidden behind what he thinks to be suaveness. Overall it is Michelle Williams’ Marilyn Monroe that really makes the movie great. You can tell she really did her homework when it came to getting Monroe’s presence down. She shows us the Marilyn Monroe that is energetic, playful and really plays it up for the public. But we also see a more tortured side, a more insecure and depressed side. And how she has a major love and hate relationship with not only her career but also her life making you wonder if she wished she was still just Norma Jean Mortenson (Baker), just living a normal life.
To sum up, while the story the movie is based on may come a crossed as a little exaggerated. If you take it for face value as just another dramatized fantasy you will walk away very entertained. His time on set may have been true but it’s his supposed week with Marilyn that leaves you with many questions. But what makes the movie worth watching is the performance done by Williams that will have you talking far after you leave the theater. As she embodies probably the closest thing to Marilyn herself.