My Week With Marilyn

2 Apr


My Week With Marilyn:

DVD Review:

Having watched this film on DVD I am now wishing I saw it in the theaters. The movie is both a British biopic of an American icon Marilyn Monroe based on a “true” story and a bit of a fantasy for those of us who fell in love with her screen persona.

Michelle Williams plays Marilyn Monroe in a way that channels her screen presence but also reveals her underlying fears, vulnerability and insecurities. Marilyn is in England to shoot the film “The Prince and The Showgirl” which stars and is directed by Laurence Olivier.

Kenneth Branagh has also channeled Olivier in his nuances and speaking manner. Olivier both admires and despises Monroe but puts up with her “method acting” misery as she holds up production time and again to prepare for being able to act a truthful performance before she will step foot on a sound stage. He gives her plenty of space but he rages behind the scenes.

Eddie Redmayne plays a young Colin Clark the third assistant director on the “Showgirl” film and a personal assistant to “Larry” Lawrence Olivier. The story centers around Clark’s week in which he escorted Monroe around Britain after her husband playwright Arthur Miller had left the country. Against everyone’s advice he falls head over heels for Monroe and remains loyal to her through all her insecurity and personal inner turmoil. .

Emily Watson has a small role as Lucy a wardrobe assistant whom Colin is attracted to, and they go on a date. She wants to trust him but understands movie set romances are always skittish when attractive movie stars are around. She played the part well and her character was such a nothing compared to the cinema icons portrayed by Williams and Branagh which was scripted that way to give Clark food for thought about his Monroe fantasy vs reality.

Dame Judi Dench portrays British theatrical actress Sybil Thorndike whose awe of Marilyn’s natural talent and young age are well-played. She is both wise and kindly and befriends Colin. With a light touch she understands him and his situation with Monroe.

Julia Ormond plays Vivian Leigh with not much to do but be jealous of the role Monroe plays in the film, it is the same role Leigh played opposite her husband Olivier in the stage version in London. Olivier didn’t cast his wife because she is 41 and much too old for the part.

The love story between Monroe and Clark is romantic and old-fashioned. They go skinning dipping together, hold hands, she rewards his loyalty with a kiss every so often and she calls him to her home all hours of the day and night just because she needs Clark’s trust and love. (Romantic love, not sexual I might add.) Monroe’s inner demons are at odds with Norma Jean who grew up never knowing her father and never receiving her mother’s love. Monroe admits to Clark that her mother was institutionalized and was incapable of loving her. Her wish is for a normal life of love and family and considers Marilyn Monroe a character she plays, Monroe is what people see not who she really is.

Williams performance at times is so spot on that you have to look twice, the voice is perfect, the smile just right and at times the way she looks at the camera she becomes Monroe.


The film is produced by Harvey Weinstein and BBC Films. Weinstein also brought the silent film “The Artist” to the screen.

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