Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Simon Curtis
Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Julia Ormond, Dougray Scott.
Hollywood created a superstar, but fame was the steep price Marilyn Monroe had to pay for her image.
There are lots of apocryphal stories concerning the behaviour of legendary film star Marilyn Monroe, from her messy personal life to her erratic behaviour on set. The two most famous examples of her diva-like behaviour on set concern her movies The Prince And The Showgirl (1957) and the classic comedy Some Like It Hot (1959). It is the making of the former that is at the crux of My Week With Marilyn, which is based on the memoirs of Colin Clark.
Colin (played by Eddie Redmayne, from Like Minds, etc) was the 23 year old son of an upper class family who was set on working in the film industry, an ambition that his father thought was just a silly phase he would grow out of. Following up on a casual comment from Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond) at a party, the tenacious Colin approaches Laurence Olivier’s production company hoping for a job.
Eventually he lands a job as a third assistant director (ie: a glorified gofer) on Olivier’s production of a film version of the stage play The Sleeping Prince. Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) has hired Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), the most famous woman in the world, to play opposite, but he gets more than he bargains for when the flighty, pill popping actress arrives. Her tardiness, her insistence on following the method acting course, and her inability to focus frustrates Olivier.
Olivier was a great actor who wanted to become a film star, while Monroe was a film star eager to become a great actress. But the troubled production tested both. Colin became Monroe’s confidant and trusted assistant during the production, and the star struck young man fell head in heels in love with the screen beauty.
Williams completely captures Monroe’s ethereal qualities, her emotionally fragile state, her insecurities, her self-doubt, and her childlike sexuality. This is a wonderful performance that should see her figure in the nominations during the upcoming awards season. Redmayne is also very good as the naïve, virginal Colin.
The film offers some insights into the film industry itself, with its look behind the scenes of a troubled production. A solid ensemble cast play some of the famous names from the era – Judi Dench plays Sybill Thorndike, Karl Moffatt plays director Jack Cardiff, Dougray Scott plays playwright Arthur Miller, who briefly accompanies Monroe to England.
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