Movie Review: ‘My Week With Marilyn’

Tj Weaver January 5, 2012 0
  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Script
  • Cinematography
  • Editing

Movie Review: My Week With Marilyn

Director: Simon Curtis
Producers: David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein
Writers: Andrian Hodges
Actors: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Music: Conrad Pope, Alexandre Desplat
Editing: Ben Smithard
 
 

In the summer of 1956, the iconic and remarkable Marilyn Monroe traveled to London to star in the Prince and the Show Girl along side the great Sir Laurence Olivier. The trip proved strenuous for Monroe: she was among, who she considered, the great actors of her time, she was in her third marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, and she battled to stay healthy amid the drugs prescribed to keep her “sane”. All of this was recorded by the third assistant director, Colin Clark — a jovial young lad, eager to join “the circus”, his way of describing movie sets.

Directed by fate, Colin spends one remarkable week with Miss Marilyn Monroe and falls under her spell. He learns of her fears, her demons, and Marilyn lets him in as far as she wants him to go. In an effort to save her, Colin tries desperately to be everything Marilyn needs, and he ignores the warnings of others who’ve fallen in the traps of a woman’s hold.

The Good

Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

The Cast

In a story that tells only a week of Hollywood and Broadway’s greatest artists — Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, Vivien Leigh, Paula Strasberg – you need today’s great actors and actresses. The entire cast of My Week with Marilyn, everyone from Emma Watson to Michelle Williams and Judi Dench, delved into their roles without fear. There’s something about watching a film and realizing at the end that not once did you see the actors as themselves or former characters, but only as the character they were meant to play in the film.

Michele Williams

If you have no interest in this movie whatsoever (which is ludicrous if you’re a fan of cinema or Marilyn Monroe) see it because of Michele Williams portrayal of Marilyn. When you first see her on screen, your mind will play tricks on you as you try to dig Michele William out, but you can’t. This talented actress submerses herself in the character completely. She nails Marilyn down to a ‘t’. By the end of the film, you actually believe you just watched the real Marilyn Monroe for an hour and thirty  plus minutes. Everything from her laughter, to the way she talks, to the way she walks, it’s all Marilyn. And in saying all of that, if Michele Williams does not win Best Female Actress at the Academy Awards, I’d be shocked.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne has this aura about him. He looks so great in front of the camera that he’s almost distraction, but a good distraction nonetheless. His depiction of Colin leaves you wanting more of the character/real person. You don’t really get to see his emotions unveil as he’s falling in love with Marilyn, which is in fault with the script rather than Redmayne’s performance.

The Storyline

Based off the true life events recorded in a diary of late documentary directer Colin Clark, My Week with Marilyn, overall is a great story. When watching, you become mystified at Colin’s amazing opportunity; he gets to be on a movie set, makes connections with talented directors and actors. The story moves quickly, no doubt due to the short running time of a little over an hour and thirty minutes. Sure, the story has it’s slow moments, but overall, Michelle Williams keeps you from looking at the time.

Not only is this a story about Marilyn, it’s a story that involves Lee Strasberg’s wife, who was Marilyn’s confidant at the time. She’s there next to Marilyn reminding her the specifics of Method acting. It’s a story about Marilyn’s dark past, and her marriage with Arthur Miller. Unfortunately, once again, the script hardly addresses these people in Marilyn’s life at this time.

The Direction & Cinematography

Director Simon Curtis takes the script and runs with it. What I enjoyed greatly about his direction was his sense of awareness. You can tell that he builds scenes around pictures and iconic frames of Marilyn. As you’re watching, you’ll say to yourself: I’ve seen that exact picture before, and more than likely you have, Curtis just brought it to life. The cinematography was also quite impressive. It’s certainly nothing groundbreaking, but it does put the film further in the 1950′s. Robert Elswit shoots parts of the film in black and white, taking us momentarily to the theaters of the 1950′s. It’s a nice touch that brings reality to the film.

The Bad

Consistency

Sadly enough, the film lacks consistency in several departments that leaves you wondering: with a great cast and an amazing storyline, why let consistency be your downfall? The editing wasn’t consistent, which was a bit distracting, for me at least. This could be more in the department of cinematography; however, the amazing black and white effect wasn’t carried out completely. It leaves you scratching your head a bit. Instead of receiving the effect here and there, we’re only teased with it at the beginning. Another problem area was the layering of fast and slower paced scenes. Often times I found myself wanting more of one scene and less of others.

The Script

The script was the biggest downfall of this film. While it wasn’t horrible, I expected more given the story, the characters and the actors involved. Great characters are turned into mere cardboard cutouts thrown a line here and there every now and then; something to remind us that they’re still in the film. When you’ve got people such as, Arthur Miller and Paula Strasberg in a film, you better give the audience, especially an audience who knows about acting, Hollywood, and Broadway, a better insight of their roles in Marilyn’s life. Sure Miller was quiet individual, but give us at least one scene where Marilyn and Miller are alone. In film with such a short running time, there’s a lot more that could’ve been explored.

Overall: 4 Stars Out of 5

If you have the chance, check out My Week with Marilyn. The film will give you an entirely new look into Marilyn’s fears as an actress and as a human. The themes of the film, unfortunately, are too big for the script to handle. The script only scrapes the surface of what could have been explored. Michelle Williams’s as Marilyn Monroe is flawless and the entire story hangs on her performance.