One of hardest things to do in film is to portray a person everyone knows or at least thinks they know. Marilyn Monroe is one of the people. She is an icon of Hollywood and a sex symbol but much of what we see of her on film is an image. Not much is really known of the person publically to humanize her other than that wink and smile. The BBC Films’ production My Week With Marilyn attempts to do that with Michelle Williams playing Marilyn.
My Week With Marilyn is about a young man Colin Clark who dreams to work in the movie business. Without the approval of his parents he gets a low level job in Sir Laurence Olivier’s film company for the production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
This production brings together Olivier with Marilyn, which at times is a clash of acting styles and cultures. Marilyn and Colin have a connection as she feels comfortable around him to show some signs of her true self and He just enamored with all that is with Star.
First things first, this film is a vehicle for Michelle Williams to totally act her butt off. Once she steps on screen as Marilyn getting off of that plane in England, in what is the most best shot scene in the film she totally carries it the rest of the time. Every frame she is in she takes over and completely controls the scene. Williams disappears and you believe she is Monroe in this. One of the best performances in films this year by far.
Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark also does a fine job as our point of view character. He plays well as the young, ambitious yet head of heels infatuated with Marilyn young man. He plays the perfect, maybe a bit too perfect young hero trying to save Marilyn from all the men in her life and even herself. But the other main delight in this film is Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier. Branagh brings an over the top yet surprisingly in depth take on the famed British actor. He shows the frustration of a British stage actor not understanding the new method style and his complete awe of Marilyn with how easily she can act for the camera.
Dame Judi Dench is really sweet in this film as Sybil Thorndike. She’s like the perfect grandmother for the cast and crew of The Prince and the Showgirl. She also always has wise things for both Colin and Marilyn. The one real flaw with this film is that it doesn’t feel like a big film. It feels like a little bit more expense episode of Masterpiece Theater. If a little bit more care was taken to have the film look like a film of that time, and not the costuming or art direction but the actual film I think that would have helped push this completely over the top film wise.
You should really take some time and check this out. It’s a great performance piece by Williams and a well-told coming of age story.
Final Grade is B+