Published on November 25th, 2011 | by dvdpinson0
“My Week with Marilyn” Review- Slight but facinating
“My Week with Marilyn” operates just as it is meant. The film is an hour and 40 minutes of pristine star vehicle that exist solely to let Michelle Williams shine. And shine she does; there is no doubt that Williams is as radiant as the icon she embodies in her pinpoint performance. If only she had more to do…
It is the summer of ’56 and young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) leaves the stately confines of his parent’s castle (literally) to find work in the British film industry. Lucky for the young, ambitious chap he is on a first name basis with Vivian Leigh (Julia Ormond) as in “Gone with the Wind” Vivian Leigh who is married to a Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The film tries to show us that Clark got a position through some form of resilience, showing up to Olivier’s studio office uninvited and sitting in the waiting room for hours and days. Once Leigh shows up and pronounces “Colin, darling,” it is clear that Mr. Clark actually had it pretty easy getting his foot in the door of Pinewood Studios.
The first production Clark gets work on is a film adaptation of the play “The Sleeping Prince” which Olivier is starring in while also directing. The big news that has the set abuzz is that the movie is to also feature the world’s biggest megastar, Marilyn Monroe. She arrives and, while everyone is struck and in awe, the overall effect she brings with her is tumultuous.
Monroe had recently been wed to playwright, Arthur Miller (an unrecognizable Dougray Scott), and it isn’t going well. In fact, all around her are celebrity leeches, attached to the star as she slowly burns on. Williams plays Monroe as incredibly vulnerable and insecure, relying heavily on the pills and booze that would eventually be her end. Not that she walks around the film a soulless zombie. This is six years before her death and it can be assumed that life must of gotten much worse for her in the years to come.
After a fight, Miller leaves for New York, leaving Monroe alone. Being alone isn’t something she seems very graceful at and she immediately turns her attention on the 23-year-old Clark. The affair is innocent, sweet and breaths life into Monroe. If one was to take anything from the title of the film that would be that this happiness is brief.
Williams is freakishly good at channeling Monroe. She hits the movements and looks with near perfection. The thing that should be celebrated here are the small moments that humanize Monroe. The prancing and posing are one thing, but showing us her sadness and confusion makes the film more than worthwhile. If Jamie Foxx got the recognition he did for being able to sing and sway like Ray Charles, Williams should get the nod for showing us something we hadn’t seen about someone we think we knew so well.
“My Week with Marilyn” features an all-star cast of Britain’s finest. Branagh relishes the chance to emote like Olivier and Dame Judi Dench is her usually wonderful self as the Dame Sybil Thorndike who sits on the set of “The Sleeping Prince” spouting wisdom. Emma Watson shows up here post-Hermione and does fine enough. Even the great Shakespearean actor, Derek Jacobi shows for a brief bit. Funny that some many of London’s best are present for a film about an American Icon.
While everyone does the good work here, the movie is more than too slight. Literally nothing happens. This is reflective of the fact that it is true story and wasn’t fluffed up much to glamorize the situation but the film really just goes on for a while then stops. No answers or closure or anything that really needs answers or closure. “My Week with Marilyn” is as fleeting as the actual affair was back in that lovely summer so long ago.