My Week With Marylin
What She said:
Remember all the hype when My Week with Marilyn
came out? It wasn’t a super widely distributed
high-profile film, but there was so much talk about how
Michelle Williams transformed herself into Marilyn
Monroe. For all the talk, I actually didn’t fully
understand what this film was about before watching it.
I thought it was just generally about Monroe, and didn’t
realize it was more of a glimpse into her life as viewed by an
outsider. And that’s what really gives the movie
value. If it were just a simple biopic, it wouldn’t be
as effective. Instead, the viewer is presented with a
story that may or may not be fact, as we should remember that
the truth is in the eye of the beholder.
The film focuses in on the summer of 1956, and 23 year old
Colin Clark is embarking on his first job as the third
assistant director for the film production of “The Prince and
the Showgirl.” While the position is pretty much the
lowest of the low, for Clark it’s a dream come true.
He’s working for Sir Laurence Olivier’s production company and
they’ve just booked Marilyn Monroe as the female lead in the
movie. Young Colin is in awe, but he’s also very
ambitious, and he quickly finds success in his new role.
He helps accommodate Monroe’s strange and somewhat
unreasonable demands, and for this he gains respect from
Olivier. Olivier, like most men, was initially drawn to
Monroe, due to her good looks and sex appeal, but his
tolerance for her wears thin, as she’s a “method” actor and
he’s the more traditional classically-trained thespian.
He can’t deal with her shizz, so he’s happy to make Clark
handle her, especially as she reacts favorably to his
coddling. The movie follows Clark’s relationship with
Monroe, and through it we get a glimpse into the actress’
This film is based on a book written by Clark, and
supposedly is true. As I said before, I’m not sure how
accurate it really is, but if these events did happen as
presented, then this is a pretty fascinating story. It’s
somewhat funny to see Olivier’s reaction to Monroe’s
antics. He loves her, but oh how he hates her. I
know there are people out there who are big Monroe
fans. I’m not really one of them, as I haven’t followed
her or her films, but she comes across as extremely troubled
and slightly ditzy in My Week with Marilyn.
She’s super drugged up throughout the film, which I’ve heard
is pretty spot on.
While the story is interesting, I think the greatest
strength of this film is the acting. Yes, Michelle
Williams does do a good job of portraying Marilyn
Monroe. Eddie Redmayne plays Clark. We’ve been
seeing more and more of this actor of late, and it seems to
be for good reason. He gives his character personality
and does the wide-eyed doey look very well. Sir
Laurence Olivier is played by Kenneth Branagh, who is himself
a classically trained actor, much like Olivier.
Personality- and performance-wise, he’s a great choice for
the role. While he really embodied his character, I
regretfully have to say that I didn’t think he looked much
like Olivier. That said, I managed to get past that and
enjoyed him for his very strong
Some of the elements of My Week with Marilyn are
kind of superficial. Honestly, not that much really
happens. It’s more of a coming-of-age story for Clark,
and even that is a subtle development. But the film is
a fun diversion driven by very good acting.
Thumbs mostly up.
What He said:
Imagine if your coming of age story involved on of the
most famous celebrities of your lifetime and arguably of
all-time. Just think about that for a second. One of the
biggest experiences in your life involves someone who all the
men want and all the women want to be. This is what happened
to Colin Clark, at least that is what he claimed in his two
books on the subject.
Colin (Eddie Redmayne) comes from a well-to-do family.
This, however, does not stop him from wanting to stand on his
own two feet. That and the fact that he’s interested in
writing and film, which is something his family has no
experience in. They are all successful in their careers, but
in industries a little more practical or realistic. They see
his interests in film as a phase. They humor him when he says
he is going to go out and do it, but also think it’s
something is not a serious career.
He eventually lands a job as an assistant on the set of
Sir Laurence Olivier’s upcoming film, The Prince and the
Showgirl. The movie also stars Marylin Monroe (Michelle
Williams). The way the movie portrays him, it makes you
wonder why Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) casted Monroe in the
role. Part of you wonders if it was nothing more than a
schoolboy crush that so many had on her. The other is that,
being the perfectionist he was, he recognized her screen
presence and wanted that in his film. It was probably a little
bit of both.
Olivier being a perfectionist is what led to a lot of
issues between the two of them. Olivier was a classically
trained actor. He had a lot of training and experience.
Marylin Monroe had charisma. She didn’t nail every scene on
the first take and actually struggled with her lines quite a
bit if this movie is to be believed. But when she got the
scene right, her raw talent and screen presence blew Olivier
away. All the takes in between those perfect shots led to a
lot of frustration though. When she was upset because of the
way she felt Olivier treated her, she’d take some solace in
Colin, whom she viewed as a nice young fella, ignorant to all
the stuff that is involved in Hollywood.
Speaking of all the stuff that goes on in Hollywood, my
God. Not that it’s a model of decent or rational behavior
now, but so many of the stars of the “good old days” seemed
like a complete and total mess.
Getting married again-and-again, seemed like the thing to do.
Whenever I watch an old movie and look up a little
information on the stars as I write my review, I can’t think
of a single one of them who wasn’t married at least twice.
Many of them seemed to at least a minimum of three.
Monroe was on exception. On the surface, she appeared to
be a very outgoing, playful, and eager to make people happy.
And part of her was that way. Her time with Colin was spent
doing very normal and non-flashy activities. She seemed not
only content, but ecstatic to simply go for a walk in the
park with him. But the rest of the time, she was extremely
insecure, a little simple-minded, and high out of her mind
because of the medication she was on for her emotional issues.
I’m no doctor, but she seemed to have very poor self-esteem,
had a fear of being along, but also had trouble staying in a
committed relationship. She might have even been
Olivier and Colin represent the two ways in which people
seemed to react to her. Some thought she was a pain in the
ass, others pitied and wanted to take care of her. Branah and
Redmayne did quite well bringing these two opposite response
to her issues to life. I can certainly understand why one
would get frustrated with her, but she seemed to incredibly
damaged you genuinely felt bad for her.
I have read some articles and message boards by fans of
Monroe and a number of them didn’t care for Michelle Williams
performance as Monroe. I thought she was good. I felt drawn
to her while watching her performance. Her public persona was
one of a flirty, fun, light-hearted gal. She seemed like a
nice gal, who could tell a good joke, and would be perfectly
content with a nice picnic in the park. But as we all know,
she was much more damaged behind closed doors. I felt Williams
did just find portraying those dual aspects of her
I agree with the She that not much actually happens in the
story, but that’s kind of what works about it. Imagine just
hanging out with a celebrity for a week. For a week, they
confide in you, want to hang out with you, and generally make
you feel like the most important person in the world. It
makes an unbelievable situation seem very real.
Prognosis: Thumbs up.
This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on
July 28, 2013.