My Week With Marilyn

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

8/10

My Week With Marilyn

A film by Simon Curtis

Every year at least one new exhibit, book or documentary boasting a fresh perspective on Marilyn Monroe appears on the long and deep horizon of her legacy. A whole new generation of fans swallow up the literature, documentaries, DVD re-releases of her films and the countless and ubiquitous images that lace our culture. She was perhaps the most willingly photographed celebrity of the 20th century and so while her fascination with the camera was cut short by her untimely death, ours with her has persisted in force. Only recently, a striking art exhibit ‘Marilyn: Life as A Legend’ toured many European countries, the US and Canada with remarkable works by Allen Jones, Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Henri Cartier Besson, Richard Avedon, Douglas Kirkland, Bert Stern and Milton Greene. Cultural historians and Curators alike have struggled through the past several decades trying to interpret the continuing Marilyn fascination.

Simon Curtis’ new film ‘My Week with Marilyn’ based on the Colin Clark book of the same name is in fact a fresh perspective and mostly intimate recollection, and no doubt is an important addition to the legacy. The story is told from the autobiographical lens of a lowly 3rd Assistant Director, the author Colin Clark (seamlessly played by Eddie Redmayne — kudos to the Casting Director), in 1956 at Pinewood Studios London while Marilyn was making a piece of fluff called the “The Prince and the Showgirl”. The film within the film, released in 1957, was directed and also starred Sir Laurence Olivier (impeccable performance here by Kenneth Brannagh) at a time when Olivier’s film career as a romantic leading man was flagging. It was thought that a Hamlet meets Gypsy Rose Lee type film with Marilyn as the object of Olivier’s princely affections would help. And of course Marilyn with her ambitions of becoming an actress with integrity was to benefit from this timely exposure to the greatest stage actor of his generation. But through various missteps including Marilyn’s drug infused (mostly sleeping pills) work habits, Olivier’s impatience with her tag along method acting coach Paula Strasberg, the film set becomes unbearable for all. Olivier loathed method actors and it didn’t help that Brando was burning up the stage and screen at the time. He was jealous not only of Monroe’s natural talent in front of the camera but also the new breed of actor who sought ‘truth’ in their performance.

During early days of shooting ‘The Prince and the Showgirl, Marilyn is abandoned in London by her then third husband playwright Arthur Miller. She seeks out the support of the youthful and smitten Colin Clark. They escape the film set on various excursions, skinny-dipping in a countryside pond, Windsor Castle, Eton College and even spend a night together innocently spooning following one of Marilyn’s benders. It is here where Marilyn, portrayed almost to perfection by Michele Williams, comes to life, where we get a glimpse of the complexity of this woman’s psyche, her fear of being abandoned and unloved, the longing for a friend who didn’t see her as just a product. Clark is that friend, if only for a week. In the course of this intimacy, Williams more than adequately mines the depth of her character, allowing us to see enough so that we can begin to understand how Marilyn followed up this mediocre film with exceptional work in ‘Some Like it Hot” and ‘The Misfits’. All the more credit should be given to Williams in the form of an Academy nomination because she is able to eventually ease the real Marilyn from our consciousness during the course of the film – no easy feat. Williams fills out the dress quite well but she could never replace the eyes, the doe-eyed look that betrayed all of Marilyn’s paradoxes, sexual but innocent, sweet but driven and calculating.

Curtis must also be recognized for his deft and restrained direction in the presence of Williams’ co-stars Kenneth Brannagh and Dame Judi Dench, themselves like Olivier great stage and screen actors in the British tradition. It must have helped to shoot the film at the venerable Pinewood Studios where the characters recreated the roles performed on the same stages over 50 years earlier – this is a little gem of cinematic history but also a very revealing and fresh contribution to an enduring Marilyn legacy.

A. Romano

Official Trailer

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  • My week with Marilyn
  • My week with Marilyn
  • My week with Marilyn

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