Guest Author - Amber Grey
"My Week With Marilyn" (2011) is based on the memoir, "The Prince, The Showgirl and Me" by Colin Clark. It tells the story of Colin, in his early twenties, thirsting to be a part of the magic of making films. After his quirky persistance of trying to get a job at a studio, Colin is hired as the "gofer" on Sir Laurence Olivier's "The Prince and The Showgirl" (1957). However, it is with the arrival of Marilyn Monroe, that Colin begins to spend more time with Marilyn than anyone on set and as a result, begins to understand her and fall in love with her.
Of course, there has been a lot of attention brought to Michelle Williams and her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. When the film was first in production, there was a list of candidates of Hollywood's contemporary youth to portray Marilyn. Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams and Kate Hudson were amongst the notable names, but when Michelle Williams was cast, she was the unconventional choice. However, like Marilyn, Williams, may prove the naysayers who thought she could not portray the icon at one of her most vulnerable points in her life. Because if there is a definitive opinion to be made, it is that Michelle Williams is incredible as Marilyn Monroe. She embodied her with subtle movements that, if the audience is familiar with photographs taken of Marilyn Monroe in her more natural state, will find Williams' portrayal spot on. She captures Marilyn's voice, which was a little raspier and lower in real life than when she was on camera. And it is in these movements, that gave way to Williams' emotional portrayal of the actress. In the past, bio-pics have portrayed the events in Marilyn's life, but not the woman. Here, we have the chance to see the woman with all of her fragility, all of her curiosity about life, her search for lifelong happiness and above all else, her struggle. Speaking as a loyal fan of Marilyn, the only nitpick I could see, was the laugh. Marilyn had more than just a small giggle, she had a funny lilting laugh. But of course, that is a nitpick. Besides that, I believe that Williams is the best portrayal of Marilyn to date. And if the Oscar buzz is true about Williams for her role, it is Oscar-winning worthy.
As for the film's story, it is not engaging as it could have been. The film fails to create a real emotional draw towards the other characters. Even with Michelle Williams' extraordinary efforts, the film still feels detached. Each scene feels as though it is about to take off more profoundly look at its story and the real life people, but these moments the film grasps onto are few and far between. One of the most interesting scenes, outside of watching Michelle Williams, is when actor Kenneth Branagh, who portrays "Sir Laurence Olivier," is in his dressing room preparing his make-up. Through the dialogue there is a distinct point-of-view of what working with Marilyn may have meant to Olivier. Though not eye-opening, it is poignant about how most people demanded so much from her. As Williams lamented in the film as Marilyn, "All they see is Marilyn Monroe." I believe in that piece of dialogue, a greater story was lost that needed to be told.
One does not have to be a Marilyn Monroe fan or a classic film fan for that matter to know that this beautiful woman who became the eternal sex symbol had a less than ideal life. It is well-known that she was a foster child, she struggled to be taken seriously as an actress, not as a movie star. That she married two famous men - Arthur Miller and Jo Di Maggio and although she longed to be a mother, her tragic and unfortunate death at the age of 36 prevented her from ever becoming what she always wanted to be - a good wife and mother. She was a woman, a fragile, curious woman who, as we might forget sometimes, was only human. If only more of the focus was on the woman behind the legend, would "My Week With Marilyn" had been a stronger film.
*This review was not endorsed in any way. I attended the movie at my local movie theater.*