"My Week With Marilyn"
Release Date: Nov. 25, 2011
Running Time: 101 minutes
Marilyn Monroe’s sad and short life has been picked apart so many times by Hollywood that it feels like we have come to know the blond bombshell better than knew herself. So it comes as no surprise that My Week With Marilyn doesn’t reveal anything new about the actress. Instead, it details in unvarnished fashion the headaches Laurence Olivier endured directing and acting with Monroe on the London set of The Prince and the Showgirl. Monroe (Michelle Williams) shows up late daily, requires hours of preparation to get into character, cannot her remember her lines, and can’t function without her acting coach, Paula Strasberg. Accordingly to My Week With Marilyn, Monroe’s most influential ally on the set was Colin Clark, Olivier’s assistant director and future documentary filmmaker. My Week With Marilyn is based on the book Clark wrote about his alleged affair with Monroe while he babysat her during filming, and director Simon Curtis unflatteringly depicts him as a lovesick puppy dog. Then again, that’s how most of the men act around Monroe in My Week With Marilyn. Clark’s infatuation with Monroe is initially played for laughs. Weakly portrayed by Eddie Redmayne, Clark is easily manipulated by the newly married but perpetually lonely Monroe to the point that she chooses him to serve as her go-between to a frustrated Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). My Week With Marilyn takes the inevitable dramatic turn as Monroe’s prescription drug use and mood swings interrupt filming. This all serves to foreshadow the events of 1962, when Monroe died during the filming of the uncompleted Something’s Got to Give. The success or failure of any film about Monroe lies with the actress playing Hollywood’s most glamorous sex symbol. Williams doesn’t possess Monroe’s hourglass figure or the va-va-voom that made her a starlet. But Williams so effectively channels Monroe’s naughty-but-nice persona that there’s no doubt she could wrap every hot-blooded male in My Week With Marilyn around her finger. William also exudes Monroe’s emotional and psychological fragility with the sufficient amount of pathos required to present her as tragic figure both in need of and trapped by her fame. Branagh may have earned comparisons to Olivier at the beginning of his film and stage career, but as Olivier, he’s no Olivier. Heavier in the face, and sporting a thick accent that suggests Olivier hailed not from England but from the fictional Balkan kingdom that’s featured in The Prince and the Showgirl, Branagh looks more like Bela Lugosi bumbling his way through a stand-up routine in the Catskills than the greatest actor to hail from the other side of the Atlantic. If that’s what Monroe turned Olivier into, no wonder Olivier didn’t direct another film for more than a decade.
Aired: Nov. 24, 2011
Web site: http://myweekwithmarilynmovie.com/