Film: My Week With Marilyn
Director: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams
Runtime: 99 mins
Review: Hannah Wills
Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn endeavours to document the intense production week of Sir Lawrence Olivier’s 1957 hit ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. Based on his true account of his experience as 3rd assistant director, we follow the young Colin Clark’s entrance into the frantic world of filmmaking. Fresh-faced Eddie Radmayne takes on the role of Clark with an innocent charm that predictably catches the attention of Monroe (Michelle Williams). They fall into a tensely short-lived love affair after Marilyn adopts him as her confidant, revealing the insecure woman behind the world’s biggest star.
Tastefully combining swanky Hollywood glamour with rural British class, the opening sequence of the film uses an energetic mixture of close-up to long distant shots, frequently suspended in a moments of a black and white ‘photographs’ to add to the authenticity. We are rapidly transported to Pinewood Studios where we begin to meet the glorious array of supporting cast (with the exception of Dominic Cooper and his frequently diminishing American accent); bringing together the likes of Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike, Zoe Wanamaker as Monroe’s protective acting coach, Emma Watson as the wardrobe mistress and Downton’s very own Jim Carter behind the typical local countryside bar. Not to mention Kenneth Branagh’s superb performance as Olivier, adding a ‘prima donna’ theatricality that encompasses much of the film’s humour.
In terms of dramatisation, I was impressed with how the film does not attempt to overly glam up and sensationalise the concept of Monroe romantically involving herself with a younger man whilst popping pills and excessively drinking. This is partially down to the typically British cast and setting, but primarily down to Williams’ splendid job of impersonating the complex Hollywood sex symbol. Her looks are sometimes uncanny from certain angles, her accent not too forced, and overall she injects a mystique that surrounds the artistic and demanding mind of such talent. We learn to sympathise with the difficulties of suffering with depression when under strain from the public eye. Opposite, the role of Colin Clark does not demand much more than breathlessly gazing with glazed eyes, but Radmayne’s quirky grins, cute freckles and generally pleasant attractiveness create a charm that is hard to criticise.
The nostalgic jazzy soundtrack keeps the mood high throughout Monroe’s ups and downs, although the event of her miscarriage seems to be swept under the carpet. This led to a questionable few moments of confusion as Colin strolls down a hospital corridor, but soon to be forgotten when Williams’ dazzling face reappears on the screen. Overall, My Week with Marilyn is a freshly British interpretation of Hollywood stardom. It is not self-gratifying despite the talented cast, but remains raw and sensitive to the American actress and all her many complications.