MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a really exquisite and beautiful film, and I’m not only talking about Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. It’s not so much a snapshot of a period but a snapshot of some characters, taken out of their greater context by shining a light on a moment, an experience and a very genuine few days.
My Week With Marilyn is a true story, starring Michelle Williams as leading lady, Marilyn Monroe and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, a 23 year cinema lover, desperate to prove himself and make his own way in the movie industry starting from the very bottom, despite the doors that could be opened by his parents. Colin keeps badgering the offices of Laurence Olivier until he’s finally awarded a place on the set as a ‘third’, a bottom of the ladder assistant to the director in The Prince and the Showgirl, a light comedy starring Marilyn Monroe. Monroe is presented as a deeply troubled woman, struggling to understand the role Olivier requires for her and not adapting well to her time in England.
The film is very much seen through the eyes of Colin, who plays his character with warmth, shyness and authenticity. Michelle Williams’s Marilyn is a magnet for the camera and offers a real insight into the woman behind the name, which unfolds slowly as the film moves on. Kenneth Branagh plays Laurence Olivier and certainly doesn’t offer a particularly flattering portrayal of the great man, who seems irrtable and impatient. As Colin says to Marilyn: “you are a film star who wants to be a great actor and Laurence is a great actor who wants to be a film star”. Both Marilyn and Laurence are shown as deeply insecure individuals making for fine dramatic character studies worthy of two great thespians.
Marilyn first discovers Colin as someone she can confide in. The romance between Colin and Marilyn never feels contrived because it isn’t ever presented as permanent, apart from maybe Colin’s deepest dreams. I’d be shocked if Michelle Williams doesn’t earn herself an Oscar nomination for this role as she really encapsulates Marilyn’s character and is a joy to watch. The script feels very true to life, not overly dramatised but when it is, such as Olivier reciting Propsero’s great speech about the illusion of theatre at the end of The Tempest, it feels entirely appropiate.
This is a great film about film-making and the troubles and anxieties placed on the shoulders of idols. It could easily have been overwritten but instead feels sincere, sweet and a lovely way to spend some time.
My Week With Marilyn is out now in the UK and in the US. Running time: 99 mins. Certificate PG (UK).
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Review by David Rank