My Week With Marilyn Review
by Bret Dorman
Actors love a good challenge. The Academy loves a good biography. And everyone loves Marilyn Monroe. The great thing about My Week With Marilyn is that it isn’t a conventional biography. It is one week with the biggest movie of the time. The bad thing is that the film seems to reflect too much of the insecurities of its characters when it comes to providing any real sense of answers to Monroe.
The story: Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is just some dude who likes movies. Then he finds himself working on the next Sir Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Brannagh) film and in the direct eyesight-crosshairs of Marliyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Also, Dame Judi Dench is very old and very British.
As alluded to above, Michelle Williams gives an excellent portrayal of Monroe. You get the sense that there is more to the character, but only a sense. The movie constantly shows us here insecurities and passion for fun, but the two never really affect each other. One moment she is locked in her room and the next she is running away on a play date. I wanted to find out Monroe had it all under control, but the enormous pressure of being herself sometimes got the best of her. Instead you really do question how self aware she is at her stardom. She refers to it once asking Colin if she should greet her fans as “her” but those moments are rare.
Sir Lawrence Olivier comes off first as a mean old man who yells at her and has no patience for her style and a huge hatred for Monroe’s acting coach. But behind the scenes Olivier can’t help but appreciate and marvel at Monroe’s natural talent. He strives so hard to be a great actor which in his mind is showing up on time, knowing your lines, and delivering them in a professional manner. Monroe does none of these things. She works on her time and struggles through every scene. But when it’s good, it’s gold.
Colin Clark is then stuck in the middle of the two. He wants to impress Olivier so he tries to convince Monroe to do her job by innocently and genuinely complimenting her and giving her confidence. On the other hand, when she becomes temporarily infatuated with him he completely succumbs to her charm and sex appeal. He sees her as someone broken whom he can protect. He wants to help her. Monroe however only wants fun and has those ‘I can’t quite this life… It’s all I know’ moments.
I was happy to see some of the inner workings of how older films were made and how certain people approach things certain ways. A film set is one of the best places on Earth. But even though some people like Colin are willing to do anything and everything for the sake of the film, others still treat it as only a job. There’s a great moment involving a chair and a union grip in which Dame Judi Dench (who I am not a huge fan of) get a very ‘you tell him!’ moment that is sure to make the audience cheer or smirk.
The movie is at its best when Colin and Monroe are out on the town. She visits a school and is immediately surrounded by young school boys who shower her with compliments from sweet to ‘cheeky’. It’s In these moments Monroe doesn’t seem to be acting. She’s always surprised by how much people love her. Always overwhelmed by the swarming fans that turns almost dangerously mob-like. And always quick with an equally ‘cheeky’ comeback.
In Conclusion, My Week With Marilyn is a great look at how much pressure Marilyn Monroe had to deal with. Much like it’s main character, Colin, we want to hang out with her. We want to impress her. We want to provide her comfort. We want to see her happy, even though when she is happy we are unsure if it’s real or an act. Monroe might not know the answers to the questions we have regarding how in control she is of her own life, feelings, and actions but the movie should. It’s a slightly frustrating hold back for the film, but amidst the great acting and fun, it’s not enough to ruin the enjoyment.
Final Grade: B