Movie Review: ‘My Week With Marilyn’
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Dame Judi Dench, Dougray Scott
Plot: During the filming of British film The Prince and the Showgirl the legendary bombshell Marilyn Monroe is escorted around London by the assistant director Colin Clark.
Review: Marilyn Monroe has, for decades, been one of the most intriguing figures in pop culture. Coming from a difficult upbringing during which she moved through multiple foster homes she became one of the biggest movie stars in history before her life was tragically cut short. Her personal life dominated the media as much as her film roles, and the mystery surrounding her death has further cemented her iconic status. My Week With Marilyn is not the first movie about Monroe, nor is it going to be the last, but it does offer a rare insight into the famed actress from a person who had a fleeting bond with her. Colin Clark recounts his personal experience and this film adaptation doesn’t feel as though it is approaching the topic with any agenda other than to provide insight.
If there’s one thing that could be taken away from this film it’s that Marilyn Monroe was not of sound mental health, possibly due to her tumultuous childhood. Throughout her life Monroe had seen multiple psychoanalysts and her psychological state has been the subject of much attention before and after her death. Much of My Week With Marilyn focuses on this aspect of the character with her behaviour regarding Colin Clark suggesting she may have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. She is highly manipulative of people she sees as being on ‘her side’, drawing them into a mindset that puts people as either supporting her or working against her. Clark finds himself becoming her go-to friend who is the only one able to help her when she’s upset, while his support may in reality be feeding her delusions.
Michelle Williams is, naturally, going to be under close scrutiny playing the role of Marilyn Monroe. Williams wears surprisingly little make-up throughout most of the film with only minor work done to accentuate Monroe’s distinctive characteristics. This allows the performance of Williams’ to shine through, and she perfectly captures the vocal style and body language of one of the most well known figures in modern culture. Putting aside the accuracy of the portrayal she performs brilliantly in her own right, bringing across the charisma and allure of the starlet just as effectively as her vulnerabilities. Her co-star Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clarke similarly well. Although he’s not as famous a public figure his character is afforded just as much depth as he is drawn towards the starlet and finds himself caught up in her skewed outlook of the world. Kenneth Branagh doesn’t fare quite as well as Lawrence Olivier, never quite able to disappear into the role as easily as Williams does with Marilyn, but he puts in a fine performance nonetheless.
It’s an interesting story and it’s well told. From a film-making standpoint it takes few risks, instead putting the focus on the characters and performances. Some of the support cast don’t hold up well next to the leads and some characters (such as Emma Watson’s wardrobe girl) are sorely under-used as the story plays out, but on the whole it’s a solid film. Should be of interest to anyone familiar with the Marilyn Monroe legacy.
Score: EIGHT outta TEN