My Week with Marilyn

First Hit: I really liked this small snippet view of Marilyn’s life.

I remember viewing a few early films with Marilyn in them and wondering how much of what I saw on screen was an act or was it just her.

“My Week with Marilyn,” if anything, added to my belief that she was mostly being herself and not a particular character. Michelle Williams plays Marilyn as I would have perceived her to be. Smart but in a childlike way; difficult to work with because of her stage fright and performance fears; and quirky because her beauty created situations of which I think she was ill prepared to deal with.

This film takes place during a week of filming “The Prince and The Showgirl” with Sir Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Branagh). During this time the studio has hired a young man as 3rd Assistant Director (gofer) named Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne).

Colin befriends Marilyn and it is his story that this film is representing. Clark wants to be in films and although he comes from a wealthy family, he will do anything to work in films. When he gets hired on this film to work with Olivier and Monroe he is in heaven. However, he quickly realizes that this is a difficult art which can be made more difficult by quirky people.

Monroe, famous for her stage fright, showing up for work hours late, and flubbing her lines, infuriates Oliver who is also directing the picture they are in. His anger and not so gentle put-downs of Marilyn’s foibles create even more tension which pushes Marilyn deeper into despair.

This is where Clark gets his chance; he’s young, sympathetic, and bends to Marilyn’s requests for companionship even though she is married at the time to Arthur Miller (played by Dougray Scott). This is the story about Clark and how he grew to know that when Marilyn was on her game she captivated people, but when she was off her game she frustrated and disappointed people, including him.

Williams was fabulous as Marilyn. For me she captured all that Marilyn’s screen persona was about while giving a glimpse as to who Marilyn was. Branagh was perfect as the arrogant English Sir Laurence Olivier who felt that Hollywood filmmaking and acting was more of learned craft and that actors needed to study the way he did. Redmayne was great as the wide-eyed naive young Clark who was confident enough of his character and charm that Marilyn might actually leave her life for him. Scott was dark and broody while succumbing to Monroe; it's what I would have pictured for Miller's character. Julia Ormond was simply charming as Vivian Leigh, Olivier’s wife. Emma Watson was very engaging as the costume girl Lucy that Colin first wanted to date until Marilyn captured his attention. Adrian Hodges wrote the script from a book by the real Colin Clark. Simon Curtis captured the beautiful scenes, sets and Williams as Monroe in a way that made the story come alive.

Overall: I enjoyed this film and its glimpse at an iconic film star.