Every goddess has a human side. This is Marilyn’s.
Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn has a twenty-something British fellow named Colin Clark (played by the smile-free Eddie Redmayne) spending quality time with Marilyn Monroe on the sets of The Prince and The Showgirl. Initial thoughts are generated on whether Curtis’ film is just another Notting Hill set in 1956 for it involves an ordinary man and an extraordinary star. But, the film doesn’t follow up on it and Monroe becomes more human in this film. Curtis doesn’t make use of the cast ensemble either. He ensures that Michelle Williams alone touches base. This being done, screenwriter Adrian Hodges weaves scenes around her. It’s sad that actors such as Judi Dench and Toby Jones have been underused. Kenneth Branagh plays Sir Laurence Olivier, a hothead who claims to be the greatest actor ever.
This assessment of Olivier cemented by Kenneth Branagh is intermittently amusing. Those familiar with the 1957 film know that Olivier was still strikingly handsome. Yet, the physical differences between Olivier and Branagh may seem alien. Branagh’s soft face becomes a blur when compared to Olivier’s sculptured masculinity.
Olivier’s then wife, Vivian Leigh (played by Julia Ormond) succumbs to Marilyn’s beauty onscreen and feels that her husband will be no match to that. Olivier confirms that he will never be, as he strongly feels that Marilyn is a true actress. When confronted by Colin to reveal this piece of truth to Marilyn, he holds back his tongue with a retort “what I said now doesn’t leave this room.”
Of course, he never thought Colin Clark would write a memoir which would contain those forbidden words.
The tragic Monroe is obviously dramatic, but the intimations of disaster don’t fit a movie that works so hard to be easily likable. Everything onscreen looks good and period-appropriate, if also too manicured, as if the past had been digitally spruced up. Curtis enlivens the movie with Zoe Wanamaker’s darkly comic turn as Monroe’s acting coach, Paula Strasberg while Emma Watson has a thankless part as Lucy, the girl from the costume department.
Lucy and Colin go out on a date and when Colin unbuttons her blouse, she holds back. When asked why, she says she’s not ready. Women back then held back their virginity. Men however are still the same. Message received Mr. Curtis!
My Week With Marilyn is a period piece that fails to stand near to 2010’s Oscar winner, The King’s Speech. The film is a platform for Michelle Williams to showcase her skills and she does it well. That’s it! Show’s over folks!