My Week with Marilyn

by on October 10th, 2010
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Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Keith Robinson

Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Rated R for some language

Containing not only an assortment of spectacular performances, but also an engaging (although simplistic) storyline, comes the much anticipated movie “My Week with Marilyn”, directed by Simon Curtis and starring Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain) in the best female performance of the year as Marilyn Monroe. The huge issue many will have with a film like this one, much as in the film “Me and Orson Welles”, is how it is filled with great performances, but loses something simply because the central focus of the movie is not on the most prominent name on the marquee (in this films case, Marilyn Monroe), but on a side character whose encounter with said “prominent character” isn’t imagined to be as nearly compelling as a biopic of the star her/himself. I would in fact tend to agree with those criticisms, as I’d much rather have seen a biopic about Monroe, BUT one cannot discount the fact that this film works on multiple levels (despite the less intriguing storyline) with great acting (which I will discuss in a minute), a rudimentary yet entertaining story that holds its own, and some very understated direction from Curtis.

Synopsis: The story follows the memoirs of an idealistic British man named Colin Clark, who loves the movies and finds himself under the employment of Sir Laurence Olivier during the production of a film called “The Prince and the Showgirl”. Olivier is to play the male lead and the budding starlet Marilyn Monroe is to play the female lead, but as the production begins the all too infamous tales of how difficult Monroe could be as an actress, begin to come to fruition and threaten to halt production. There is also a love story mixed in there between Colin and Marilyn that plays out as a less (far less) interesting side note.

In some of the dialogue the film does touch on Monroe’s troubled upbringing and it does show off her many insecurities pertaining to the constant need for male affection, but what many Monroe fans will find disappointing is that the Marilyn Monroe character (as I stated before) is not the main focal point of this movie. The reason for this may have been because the director and writer were attempting to stay faithful to the eyewitness source material or maybe the reason lies in the fact that this was a BBC production, but whatever the reason, the notion that the film uses Marilyn as a supporting character may take Monroe’s fans into a story that they may not all together care about. But for the small amounts that the film does focus solely on Marilyn, it does deliver some very historically interesting peeks into the woman’s methodology of how she worked as an actress versus how Olivier worked, as well as her magnetism that made many other actors of her time consider Monroe naturally one of the best to ever do it.

Side Note: In all actuality, if one thinks of this film in terms of being an all British production, then “My Week with Marilyn” maybe considered a harsh and very chastising allegory of how the Brits see European and Americans relations. But maybe I’m looking too deeply into it.

The Oscar buzz surrounding Williams is very much earned, as she is sure to be this years Natalie Portman, hip shaking her way through awards season to ultimately accept an Academy Award for best actress. Her transformation into the beloved icon that is Monroe is simply remarkable. From the sultry way that she walked, to the inflections in her voice, to even the slight movements in her facial expressions, Williams is hands down the best portrayal of Monroe in film to date. There is also a truly noteworthy performance from Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, who is equally as brilliant in his role.

Final Thought: As I stated earlier, I must be in the majority in saying that I would have rather seen a film strictly concerning the life of Marilyn Monroe, as she is one of the most interesting enigmas to come out of old Hollywood. BUT, one shouldn’t discredit a film worth watching just because the movie itself is slightly overshadowed by some award winning caliber acting. Unfortunately, that particular reason is why this film will all together garner mixed reviews, but in my opinion, “My Week with Marilyn” is a clear example of a film whose storyline is average but whose acting elevates it to one that is well worth watching. At the end of the day, this is the picture that may go down as the most underrated film of 2011.

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