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December 26, 2011
Review - " My Week With Marilyn "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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My Week with Marilyn
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond,
Kenneth Bragh, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Toby Jones, Dominic

My Week with Marilyn is a captivating peek at the woman behind the
movie icon.

Marilyn Monroe is such an influential and well-known pop culture
icon, it’s hard to imagine anyone trying to fill her shoes.  But in
director Simon Curtis’s drama My Week with Marilyn, Michelle
Williams does it, and does it splendidly.

The film is based on the memoir by Colin Clark (played in the film by
Eddie Redmayne), a young Englishman who longs to be in the film
business and is able to talk his way in to getting a job as the third
assistant director in actor Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh)
next film, the comedy “The Prince and the Showgirl”.  When actress
Marilyn Monroe (Williams) arrives to star in the movie - this is 1956,
and she’s at the height of her fame - all of London is thrown into
chaos, but while Marilyn is able to put on a happy act for the
cameras and the public with her new husband, playwright Arthur
Miller, it is just that: an act to cover up her deep insecurities.  Her
personal issues, including an increasing dependency on drugs, and
her use of the Method style of acting frustrate the theatrical Olivier
to no end, and when Miller takes off for America, she invites the star-
struck Colin to spend the week with her - a week in which Colin falls
in love, and gets a lot more than he’s bargained for.
My Week with Marilyn is one of those films in which the performances outshine all other elements of the movie.  In this
case, it’s more like “performance” than “performances”, as Williams manages to embody the essence of Marilyn better than
anyone could have imagined.  With the trademark blonde hair and red lips, she vaguely resembles Marilyn physically, but
she nails her personality.  There are times when we see the confident, sexy Marilyn—the Marilyn that isn’t really her—and
her true personality, a playful, vulnerable girl who just wants people to love her for her.  Williams portrays both these sides
with equal precision, from graciously signing autographs when throngs of people assault her in public, to quietly breaking
down on the set.  At one point in the film, Colin refers to Marilyn as a goddess, and it’s true; seeing what her life was like
behind-the-scenes is like unraveling the secrets of some great and elusive figure.

Unfortunately, while it is
immensely enjoyable, My
Week with Marilyn has little
else to offer besides Williams
to make it an outstanding and
unique film.  There’s not really
a structured plot, but it is
essentially the story of a naïve
young man who gets caught
up in the glamour of the film
world and comes out a little
wiser; not really anything we
haven’t seen before.  Colin is
sometimes likeable but not
particularly engaging, while
the choice of Julia Ormond to
play Olivier’s then-wife, actress
Vivien Leigh (whose tragic
story, incidentally, would also
make an interesting film), is
questionable.  However, while
Williams outshines most of the
cast, Branagh (unsurprisingly)
makes a believable Olivier,
while Judi Dench as actress
Dame Sybil Thorndike and
Dominic Cooper as Marilyn’s photographer Milton Greene.  Emma Watson also makes a brief appearance as Lucy, the
wardrobe girl Colin strikes up a relationship with - and promptly drops once he becomes involved with Marilyn.
Perhaps that’s why Colin is
only somewhat likeable; he’
s innocent and awkward,
and it’s fun to get swept up
in the bustle of the movie
set with him, but the fact
that the gets so caught up
with Marilyn makes him
seem like just another
awestruck fan, a follower
rather than a leader.  And
perhaps that’s why this film
isn’t particularly
remarkable.  But Williams
is, and that’s enough for
any film buff or Marilyn fan
to see this and be