My Week with Marilyn Reviews
My Week with Marilyn is such a terrific film with great performances from big names like Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, and littler names like Eddie Redmayne and Philip Jackson. What makes this movie the pleasure it is, is definitely the top notch cast. Michelle Williams just continues to top herself with everything she does and her performance as Marilyn Monroe is no different. She is absolutely fantastic. The other standout is Eddie Redmayne, who plays Colin Clark.
Colin Clark is a 23 year old and has aspirations of making it in the movie business. He works hard to try to get a spot on the production team of Sir Laurence Oliver's next film, which happens to star Marilyn Monroe. Colin is given a position as 3rd Assistant Director and is basically nothing more then an errand boy. He catches the eye of Marilyn though, as he is different from the rest of the films production team. We also get a glimpse at the tense relationship between Oliver and Monroe as they work on the film.
I love movies that show the behind the scenes look at famous people, and with My Week with Marilyn we are given that opportunity. It's also a film of subtlety, which I also love. Marilyn's lifestyle isn't made center stage in the film, but the glimpses we get of it are enough. It's just a really well written and directed film.†
My Week with Marilyn is a must see in my opinion. I loved each and every second of it and can't wait to watch it again. This is one of those films I can see myself revisiting many times and I'm sure I will.†
The film does a wonderful job of getting inside not only the filmmaking, but of the psyche of that mercurial yet fragmented and frightened woman child that was Marilyn. With a strong cast including Kenneth Branagh as Olivier (who must have truly enjoyed being able to emote the bard in so many lines... I could listen to him do Shakespeare all day), and a fantastic rendition of Marilyn by Michelle Williams. For good measure you have Dame Judi Dench in a lovely role, and in what amounts to a cameo, Derrick Jacobi, who manages to light up the screen in his short time on it.
The direction and camera work stand up to the actors involved, with some lovely rotating camera work and lighting that somehow managed to emulate just how the camera loved Miss Monroe. Director Simon Curtis (and wouldn't it be something if he was related to Tony Curtis who once said that kissing Marilyn was like kissing Hitler) - plays the film as if it were the 60's and this serves the film well - keeping things moving along and light and breezy in spite of showing all of Marilyn's frayed edges. Using bits of songs from the Marilyn songbook along the way help capture her glamour but also her frailty, especially the terrific adaptation by Williams of That Old Black Magic which closes the film. Her significant pause before uttering the last word of the song sent chills down my spine.
Many have complained that this film is nothing more than a gimmick, but I have to disagree. It is well made, with terrific acting on display - an intelligent script and a 60's feeling that while showing you bits of the fractured Marilyn, refuses to wallow in it. The film may lack a certain depth in this regard, but for my taste, this isn't what I wanted to see here. The film entertains, shows a degree of respect for the subject, and rises far above the tabloid fare I'm sure many were hoping for.
It was worth watching, but once was enough.
Colin is smitten with Marilyn, and his profesional association begins to turn personal with her, despite warnings of her being a heartbreaker and the threat of trouble. Colin begins to understand who the real Marilyn Monroe is, and he just might be the person she needs most, even if their connection is inevitably going to be a bittersweet coming of age story.
This is a very charming and heartfelt film, and yeah, it's moving too, despite being osmewhat predictable and unoriginal. Like the very similar Me and Orson Welles, this is flawed, yet well played. Eddie Redmayne is decent, but of course he's playing econd fiddle to the more interesting characters played by Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh.
Williams may not be a dead ringer for Monroe (kinda like how Frank Langella and Anthony Hopkins don't really look like Richard Nixon), but she uccesfully captures the spirit and essence of her, as well as the beauty. This was going to be a tough role for anyone, but she pulls it off nicely, and she's great at showing all sides of Ms. Monroe, from the sexy and playful, to the insecure and damaged. He's made a career out of brilliant performances, and this is yet another great one to add to the list. Branagh is likewise great as Olivier, doing a good job of showing his frustration with trying to handle a force like Marilyn. There's also some appearances by Julia Ormond, Dougray Scott, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Bob Hoskins, and Toby Jones, with some faring better than others, but nobody truly sucking.
All in all, this is a nice film, and it looks great, and is highlighted by the acting, but the story is nothing new, this isn't as fresh as it could have been, and it's pretty overrated, but still, even then, it's hard not to like it even just a little bit.
Great Film! The movie is similar in tone to "The King's Speech," and was helped by a beautiful score and wonderful costumes. I thought the performances were all very good by the leading characters. Michelle Williams's hardcore study on her character shows in the movie and she deserved her Oscar nomination. The cinematography used throughout the picture is exquisite and has a very nostalgic feel to it, which adds to the authenticity of the film, throughout. I understand that it is extremely hard to satisfy all audiences when a film about such a universal icon is created. However, I did feel that the film only scratched the surface of Monroe's exquisite facade, and that so much more could have been done within the creative walls of Curtis' direction. Overall, beautiful setting, costume design, and a thoroughly believable love affair between Redmayne and William's characters, all add up to a captivating, beautiful film, which I feel will be looked upon in years to come, as a sensitive and inciteful look into the life of Hollywood's most intriguing superstar.
Young Oxford graduate Colin Clark has dreams of getting into the movies. Or, has he prefers to say, run off to the circus. He pursues a production position and is eventually named third assistant director for The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier, the film also stars Marilyn Monroe. While Olivier the renowned stage actor is looking to become a movie star, Monroe is a movie star looking to be seen as a serious actress. Monroe is terribly self-conscious, has her own full-time acting coach in Paula Strasberg and is frequently late. It all drives Olivier a bit mad and he assign Colin to supervise her and make sure she gets to work on time. Colin and Marilyn soon develop a rapport and they have a positive effect on one another.
Director: Simon Curtis
Summary: While filming a movie in England, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe slips away with a young Brit for a week of self-discovery and frivolity. The story that ensues is based on the real-life memoirs of Colin Clark, once assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier.
My Thoughts: "I absolutely loved this movie and am, once again, impressed by Michelle Williams performance and her portrayal of the haunting and beautiful Ms. Marilyn Monroe. The film gives you a glimpse in the life of Marilyn as well as Colin. I don't think anyone will can truly say they knew the real Marilyn, but just this little glimpse of how it was for her makes me feel sad for her. The impending feeling she had of wanting acceptance and love comes through the screen in a force. The film surrounds more on Colin Clark, but Michelle Williams took over the screen with her presence that you forget who the film is really about. Not that Redmayne didn't give a great performance, cause he did, it's just Michelle was a force to be reckoned with. Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh give great supporting performances as well. Great film."
Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
The real Marilyn Monroe was an inch and a half taller than Michelle Williams, a significant difference when one considers that there is no way Williams could have replicated the voluptuous physicality of Monroe's presence. Yet, the young actress does something quite unexpected in capturing the essence of Monroe's wounded psyche for all its frailties and doing a convincing job of conveying the public Marilyn for all her breathy sensuality in this modest 2011 showbiz tale. Directed by British TV veteran Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges, the film depicts a minor piece of motion picture lore based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, who was a lowly "third assistant director" during the production of the Ruritanian romance, "The Prince and the Showgirl". The mostly forgotten 1957 movie marked Monroe's attempt at being taken seriously as an actress in a well-publicized collaboration with Sir Laurence Olivier just after she married playwright Arthur Miller.
Williams tackles the impossible with her empathetic performance as Monroe, and she manages it with aplomb without resorting to outright impersonation. One deliberate exception is the enchanting little dance she does as her character in the movie within the movie - she mimics Monroe perfectly in those few moments. Eddie Redmayne plays the callow Colin to the best of the screenplay's workmanlike limitations since the only hint of complexity is breaking the heart of the young costumer played in a fetching manner by an underused Emma Watson. As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh captures the ego-driven bluster and measured speech cadence of the legendary actor, but he is also underserved by Hodges' script. Dame Judi Dench again steals her scenes as a fellow scene-stealer, Dame Sybil Thorndike. Barely making a ripple in the story are Julia Ormond as Olivier's then-wife, Vivien Leigh, with just a hint given of her descent into madness, and Dougray Scott as a taciturn Miller. For all its flaws, the film is worth seeing for Williams' mesmerizing work, for example, the scene where she romps through the English countryside conveying Monroe's sense of freedom in a way that recalls a similarly poignant scene in "The Misfits".
I wish they could have shown more of the "good takes." So many of them were Marilyn fumbling lines and looking dumb, and they didn't quite capture how when "she gets it right, she really gets it right." For an audience unfamiliar with MM, people's compliments about her being brilliant seem empty.
I'm not quite sure how to rate Michelle Williams' performance. I'm glad she won the GG because her acceptance speech was lovely, but she didn't fully capture Monroe's essence. Can anyone, really? That's the enigma of Monroe. She could really turn it on, just like that. Williams does a very good performance of SOMEBODY, but I can't quite say that that somebody was Marilyn Monroe. I suppose out of all the actress who have tackled the part (that I've seen), Williams creates a serious role and not just a frothy impersonation, and she deserves props for that.
The editing and design could have helped with that "IT" quality though. Williams looks a little bit like MM, but her face is too round and her smile isn't as Joker-esque. There are a few slow-motion pans and B&W freeze-frames at the beginning of the movie that I wished would pervade throughout because only in those stylized shots did Williams look more like MM. As with Tyra Banks' adage of "creating your own hair wind," MM created her own slow-motion and B&W freeze-frames, but Williams doesn't really.
Oh Emma Watson. Why so much tension in your brow and mouth? You could probably be a great stage actress with all the faces you pull, but giiiirl, RELAX!!!
The character of Colin Clark seems to be stripped of all defining personality traits. He's this bland kid caught in continual awe. He just seems to be smiling and twinkling those big, compassionate eyes of his, typifying the earnestness of young love. I think he's been rendered into a cipher for the audience to put themselves in his shoes, becoming star struck with Monroe's attention. The screenplay takes far too much time on showing Clark coming to the repetitive rescue. His romance with a costume girl (Emma Watson) is a nonstarter and the movie doesn't even try and hide the fact. She's the backup romantic option, so the fact that he goes back to her after being spurned by Monroe and we're supposed to feel that this is growth seems disingenuous and a bit caddish. Perhaps she didn't take it too hard; if you're going to be dumped for anyone else, there's no shame if it's Marilyn Monroe. Judging by the movie's depiction, Clark is a rather boring young man, and I didn't buy for a second that Monroe would cling to him as her hero.
My Week with Marilyn is really focused on the titular star. Clark is just out path to the real star. I doubt there's anything particularly revelatory about Monroe here. She was plagued with insecurities, a need to be loved, and the fatigue of "playing" herself all the time, all hips swivels and winks. At one point Clark and Monroe are taking a walk and met with a group of fans. "Shall I be her?" she coyly asks Clark and then turns into the vampy goddess the public loved, striking poses and smiling wide. By the very constricted nature of the timeline, we're not going to learn too much about the famous beauty. She flubbed her lines, she and Olivier didn't get along, and a mini-entourage of sycophants who were meant to be a surrogate family for the troubled gal surrounded her. Was she a lonely gal crushed by the weight of stardom or a manipulative lady who knew how to get what she wanted? The movie doesn't take a side, instead serving up all sides of Marilyn Monroe, including a few in the buff. The film has some enjoyable juicy bits, particularly the friction between Monroe and Olivier, but the movie ultimately becomes another fawning admirer of its star. There are a couple musical numbers with Monroe that feel clumsily reproduced and the tone seems too light too often for the dramatic moments to have any real bearing. It becomes another fan that celebrating her image and sponging off her fame and legacy.
While the film may not be revelatory, Williams (Blue Valentine) herself is the revelation. She's not exactly a dead ringer for the curvaceous, buxom blonde beauty, but she inhabits the spirit of the woman rather than sticking to a breathy imitation. She doesn't capture the baby-doll voice but the demeanor she has down pat; when she turns it on you can feel the screen light up with the luminescence of star power. There's quite a difference between the sad, depressed, codependent Marilyn and the sexy pinup fantasy. It's an incredible performance in an otherwise so-so movie, though I wish the screenplay had given her more complexity to work with. Branagh (Valkyrie) is great fun as the stuffy, overbearing Olivier who gets plenty of snappy lines to vent his frustration over Monroe's antics ("Teaching Marilyn how to act is as useful as teaching Urdu to a badger!"). Both actors are so good, and so good together, that I wish we could just remove the "my week with" from the title and focus on the relationship between Monroe and Olivier.
Allow me to question the voracity of Clark's account. He waited until 1995 to publish his film set diaries, and then after his first memoir of his time with Monroe sold well he published another one in 2000, this one filling in a nine-day gap he says was that fateful week with the sex icon of the twentieth century (eat it, Clara Bow!). The second memoir was written fifty years after the fact and from the nostalgic perspective of an old man looking back to his youth. I feel that the particulars have been smoothed over and romanticized. The fact that surviving actors from The Prince and the Showgirl cannot verify any sort of relationship, and that several sources say that Monroe and her new husband Miller were inseparable at the time, cause me to doubt the validity of this personal account. In his first memoir, Clark even criticizes Monroe's physical appearance ("Nasty complexion, a lot of facial hair, shapeless figure and, when the glasses came off, a very vague look in her eye. No wonder she is so insecure."). Yet in the second book he becomes her defender. So which is it? Who wouldn't, with sixty years of hindsight and a best-selling first memoir, embellish their one-time dalliance with a star like Monroe? The most desired woman in the world and he, a 23-year-old nobody, was the one to become her confidant? Aren't we full of ourselves? And he crawled into her bedroom and was asked to stay the night and didn't consummate that relationship? In the book she offers and he declines. Talk about the biggest mistake of your life.
If you're going to embellish, then you might as well get some action out of it. Then again, maybe in the books Clark says that Monroe gave him a pity handjob and the filmmakers deleted this (I can hear him screaming from beyond the grave, "You fools! The handjob was a metaphor. The whole tale falls apart without it!"). If I ever had even a fighting chance of getting lucky with Marilyn Monroe, you'd best believe I would be telling that story so often that my grandkids would roll their eyes in disgust ("Geez, we get it grandpa. Marilyn gave you a handy once."). The post-script tells us that after The Prince and the Showgirl, Monroe went on to Some Like it Hot and Olivier went back to the theater for some of his best-reviewed runs of his career. So clearly, these two stars owe all their good success to the heroics of Colin Clark, who nudged them from greatness to legendary. We have only Clark's take since Monroe cannot dispute Clark's claims so I feel like the memoir, and the film adaptation, is an exercise in serving Clark's ego.
My Week with Marilyn is a light, weightless movie that retells the shooting of a light, weightless movie. Well done, everyone. The emphasis on this bland kid and his fairly unbelievable whirlwind romance of the twentieth century's most iconic sex symbol makes the movie feel self-serving. Does anyone honestly believe the events of this story? Whatever the validity of the events, a movie should be entertaining on its own rights. My Week with Marilyn has its bouncier moments and is saved by stellar acting from Branagh and the radiant Williams. But even the best acting in the world can't save a movie that feels like it's completely some old man's exaggerated, embellished, and somewhat boring fantasy. If this is the relaxed standard for getting a movie made, then I look forward to the eventual film adaptation of my soon-to-be-released novel titled, My 28 Hours of Incredible Sex with Angelina Jolie.
Nate's Grade: B-