My Week With Marilyn
I read once that people would describe Marilyn Monroe as mesmerizing every time she stepped foot in a room. People would stop whatever they were doing and just stare at the actress, not necessarily with sexual longing, but just because she emitted such a strong presence. People just wanted to be near her. After watching MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, I think the same can be said for a movie about the late actress because it seemed that the filmmakers were so obsessed with making a movie featuring Marilyn Monroe as a character that they forgot to focus on the story surrounding her. With the possible exception of THE IRON LADY, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is the truest form of “Oscar bait” we’ve had in 2011.
Although the film is really more about Marilyn Monroe’s eccentricities on the set of THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh, feeling way too much like Kenneth Branagh), the actual plot is about a young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) and the friendship he has with Monroe. Predictably, he’s sensitive to her hissy fits and she latches on to him, much to the chagrin of everyone else on the set. And even more predictably, their “romance” turns sour, mainly because she’s an international superstar that is wanted by every man in the world and he’s a goofy looking British kid.
The story alone is interesting enough; a young, innocent boy falling trap to an experienced Hollywood starlet. If done appropriately, we should have instantly become attached to Colin and his situation and maybe even rooted for things to work out between him and Marilyn. But director Simon Curtis just couldn’t get away from showing meaningless scenes of Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. At some point, Curtis should have stood up and demanded the film be changed into a Monroe biopic. Since that was seemingly what he wanted to make all along.
Michelle Williams is decent as Marilyn Monroe, but MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is such an empty film that her performance feels more like a comedian doing an impersonation than an actress playing a character. Given the challenges anyone would face playing such an iconic character, she did well with what she had to work with, but the story needed more development. And she wasn’t the only one that was doing an impersonation, Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier and Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller felt like they’d be better on an open mic-night at the local comedy club than in a film. Eddie Redmayne is fine as the naïve Colin, but aside from being young and naïve, we never learn anything else about him. And no matter how hard the film tried, his relationship with Marilyn could never be seen as anything other than a schoolboy crush. In order for it to work, we needed to believe in the possibility that there was mutual love between the two. Unfortunately, we never got to that point.
Michelle Williams has received a lot of attention for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, but I would argue that this is not even her best performance of the year (that belongs to MEEK’S CUTOFF). As for the story, I wanted to root for Colin and Marilyn and I was genuinely interested to see where the story was going to go, but the ride to get there was just too shallow for it to be enjoyable.