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I attended an advance screening of "My Week With Marilyn," and much to
my surprise, was absolutely blown away. I was initially very reluctant
to accept Michelle Williams as Marilyn, one of the most beautiful and
glamorous women of all time, but she was extraordinary - luminous,
even. She pulled off the role seamlessly, and turned Ms. Monroe into a
layered, complex character, rather than the sex-kitten caricature we
are all so used to seeing. Michelle managed to show us the real Marilyn
- the woman who so desperately wanted to be loved, to be accepted, to
be good at her job. The vulnerability, the mannerisms, the voice - all
were pitch perfect. I have no doubt there will be yet another Oscar
nomination in Michelle Williams' near-future.
I was also very impressed by Eddie Redmayne, who's character was arguably the heart of the film. He was excellent as the star-struck yet sensitive Colin Clark, who helped Marilyn through her very difficult time on the set of "The Prince and the Showgirl." This was definitely a star-making turn for Eddie - I expect we'll be seeing much more of him.
The movie is similar in tone to "The King's Speech," and was helped by a beautiful score and wonderful costumes. Director Simon Curtis, who devoted eight years of his life to this project, did a wonderful job capturing the essence of 1950's England. The wardrobe department deserves a nomination, as do the writers. Kenneth Branagh was superb as Laurence Olivier, as was the great Judi Dench as Dame Sybil.
All in all, one of the best films I've seen this year, and definitely the best (not to mention most authentic) portrayal of Marilyn ever to hit the silver screen. I couldn't have been more impressed.
I just saw this film at the Mill Valley Film Festival and was pretty much blown away. My expectations were low and the very beginning of the film seemed to bear that out. Seeing well-known actors playing very well-known actors can take a little getting used to. But both Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams did admirable jobs. Michelle was a revelation. She completely inhabited the role of Marilyn in all of her complexity: her vulnerability, her guile, her sweetness, and her insecurity. This is one of the few performances I've seen where I would say someone is a lock for the Oscar. But this is not only a tour-de-force of acting. It is also a compelling and well-told story of the making of a film and of the competing personalities and agendas involved. Eddie Redmayne was wonderful as Colin, the narrator and main character of the story. Judi Dench was her wonderful, wise self. The cast was filled with wonderful character actors who seemed familiar and comfortable. My brother and I agreed that this was a better film than A King's Speech so on that basis alone it should win Best Picture. At the very least, it was an very entertaining and moving night at the movies.
Remember "The Prince And The Showgirl"? I saw it for the first time only a few years ago, after the death of all the protagonists. The miracle, and it is indeed a miracle, Marilyn felt so alive, so contemporary. In "My Week With Marilyn" Michelle Williams is full of light, the real light, the internal one, while everyone else is deadly opaque. The film feels like a very low budget TV movie and not even the grand manors and colleges manage to give it the production value, the story deserved. But Michelle Williams is truly enchanting. Not that she is a dead ringer for the real Marilyn. So much more demure, smaller breasts, smaller behind, only her strange kind of melancholia seems to match the original one and some of that magic essence appears to be in place. Eddie Redmayne, the narrator, whose POV drives the story is rather a cool fish. His grasp is so limp and small that I was kept longing for more. Kenneth Brannagh is very funny and Judi Dench, terrific, but Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh is just so wrong one wants to fast-forward, unfortunately, that's impossible right now. But, let's go back to Michelle Williams, the one reason to see this film and in itself she's reason enough.
Marilyn Monroe, the quintessential blonde bombshell, came to Pinewood
Studios in 1956 to shoot 'The Prince and the Showgirl', a light comedy
directed by and starring Laurence Olivier. Colin Clark, the third
assistant director on the film, was the lucky 23-year-old who got to
spend a week with her. 'My Week with Marilyn' cinematises his diary.
I imagine there aren't many characters more difficult to play than Monroe. It must be like playing Elvis. But I'm delighted to confirm that Michelle Williams makes the impossible look easy. She has thrown herself into this part and has nailed the portrayal. Aside from the physical resemblance, Williams walks, talks and acts like Monroe. It's too early to say whether she'll win the Oscar next year, but a nomination seems a certainty.
Williams' performance is bolstered by impeccable turns by an enviable roster of the creamiest cream of British talent: Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Zoë Wanamaker, Eddie Redmayne and Emma Watson. Especial mention must go to Branagh whose Olivier is impeccable. He accurately displays the legendary actor's sophistication and scurrility, and is bound to receive a supporting Oscar nod.
I loved the film's playfulness, for instance when Clark takes Monroe on a tour of Eton, followed by skinny-dipping in a cold river. The filmmakers do well to capture the craziness of Marilyn's world and the feeling of what it was like to be the most famous woman in the world. There are some lovely little touches like the scene where Clark asks Monroe why she has a picture of Abe Lincoln by her bedside. Her reply, 'I don't know who my real father was, so why not him?'.
Eddie Redmayne, who has appeared in some big films ('The Good Shepherd', 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age') is well-cast as Colin Clark. Perhaps it's because he looks so much the underdog. He sort of represents every young man who would have killed to be in his shoes.
Clark has his eyes set on Monroe but resigns himself to the fact that Emma Watson's character, a costume assistant, is more his match. A weakness in the story, although I'm unclear of the veracity, is how underused Watson is and how readily she forgives his liaison with Monroe. Didn't girls have higher standards in those days?
Simon Curtis is yet another Englishman who has moved seamlessly from TV to cinema. His film astutely plays down the fact that Colin was brother to the even more famous Alan Clark, a former Conservative MP. Rightly so, I think. This film isn't about the minister or his also-famous diaries.
I'm glad the filmmakers didn't sacrifice the film's integrity by moulding it to be rated 12A (British certificate) to increase ticket sales. The two or three flashes of flesh are not only welcome, they are vital (Monroe said that 'the body is meant to be seen'). Curtis teases us like Marilyn was famous for doing. But he knows not to go too far by showing us any more than is necessary.
In summary, this is a brilliant biopic, as well as a story of what happened when a young man got close to the star he adored. It is bittersweet and evocative of a golden age of Hollywood. I was made to care for Monroe. I felt bad for her when she was exploited. Along with Elton John's beautiful song, this film has made me understand Norma Jeane Mortenson a little better. Now I see her as more than a sex symbol. She may have been blonde but she wasn't dumb. Dumb blondes don't read James Joyce or marry Arthur Miller, or come out with some of the wittiest lines a person can utter. She was like all of us, really: a human being.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN CATCH IT ( B+ ) A young Colin Clark remembers the time he has spend with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl". The movie is told through the eyes of Colin Clark and how he sees Marilyn and her estrange relationship with the director/actor Laurence Olivier. As the movie is only about some of days Colin Clark spends with Marilyn, we don't get to see the whole drama inside her life but I must commend Michelle Williams for her stellar portrayal of Marilyn because it's her performance that takes you deep into the mind of Marilyn rather than the script itself. Michelle Williams's hardcore study on her character shows in the movie and she deserved her Oscar nod. Eddie Redmayne is impressive as always but over the years I've noticed that Eddie is always good but never really leaves a strong impact. I've seen him several movies so far but he wasn't that memorable in them. Kenneth Branagh is simply superb. Julia Ormond and Dominic Cooper are alright in their parts. Emma Watson did a decent job out of Hermione, even it was a small role but it was defiantly good to see her spreading outside Harry Potter franchise. Overall, My Week with Marilyn is a good movie and Michelle Williams's performance is worth watching. Highly Recommended! P.S I would love to see Michelle Williams reprise her role as Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn's autobiography if Hollywood decides to make one.
I liked this movie, it was a non-judgemental re-telling of a slice of history. I thought the performances were all very good by the leading characters. I have no idea what the real Marilyn was like and I don't think many people do, but Michelle Williams character is a more than plausible interpretation, vulnerable at times, manipulative at others, who really knows where the reality lies, but there was something for everyone's interpretation. The movie did a good job of depicting that moment in time and transporting the audience there for a couple of hours. I guess it is every man's fantasy to have this opportunity, so the story is a satisfying one for any man who has ever wondered what the real Marilyn may have been like.
"My Week with Marilyn" is entertaining and sufficiently well done to interest anyone who remembers her story. But those who have some exposure to the literature she has generated should be impressed by the way the film manages to represent so many of the very different views there are about her. Was she a smart, predatory woman in control of her persona and milking it for all she could get? The sad addicted victim of her handlers? An ordinary woman looking for love and happiness derailed by her own star quality? The movie represents all of these views and refuses to settle the question. The writer and director are to be congratulated for resisting the temptation to come down on a particular view.
I had really looked forward to seeing this and was prepared to be
knocked out by Michelle Williams.
She remains a terrific favorite of mine as modern actresses go, but there were some essential things that either she or the director got wrong.
Mainly she misses the bigger-than-life aura that movie stars have to have. Her gritty indie acting is terrific and she works hard to get the emotions and make a real character. She goes for all of that in this role, but the script is so expository and contrived (with bits and pieces from other sources that are thrown in to make sure we get it).
Her radiance seems so dim in comparison to what Monroe could truly turn on. The stark contrast between the giggles and the tears was never convincing via Williams. The wallowing, self-pitying Marilyn with a streak of manipulation comes off just okay, but becomes tedious with the repetitive and slow script. In the scenes where she is being lionized by fans, her consumption of the adulation is a poor shadow show.
Branagh is terrific. Dench dynamite as Dame Sybil. But the pace and heaviness of the direction diminish their efforts. And why would Olivier be mouthing dialogue from "The Entertainer" during the making of "Prince and the Showgirl" (The "dead behind these eyes" bit)? The filmmakers really underestimate the audience. The actors playing Milton Greene and Arthur Miller make such wretched attempts at American accents, that I won't even call them out by name.
Now to Julia Ormond. Phoned in. She's not central to the story and makes rare appearances, but again, lacks the movie star command that Vivien Leigh knew precisely. When she walks in for a visit on the set, she doesn't bring the inner radiance that makes everyone treat her like royalty--a hallmark trait of Vivien Leigh. Additionally, her final confrontation with Olivier lacked the meanness and anger and resentment that Leigh had become used to verbally stabbing poor Larry with.
It is to appreciate that someone takes these acting icons and tries to show us real people--but to not direct them to give us the spark that makes these stars interesting even still, is inexcusable and, ultimately, dull filmmaking.
In the end, what could have been a delicious look into the paper persons of icons, becomes a meandering and shallow exercise in pointlessness.
Michelle Williams, who spent months watching Monroe's films and
devouring biographies on her, acknowledges that she found Clark to be
an unreliable narrator.
"When you read both of his books, you do get the sense that he's writing with the advantage of hindsight, and he's put some awfully big words in his own mouth," said the actress.
In the account of the missing week, Colin and Marilyn have this wonderful interlude where she is kissing him and hanging out and sneaking off to spend time with him. In the book, unlike the movie, she even is willing to have sex with him, but he declines. They go skinny dipping, sleep in the same bed and really become close.
But in the diary section, there is no difference in his attitude toward Marilyn after the missing week. Here he is, her big defender, who adores her, who could even have been her lover, had he chosen to do so, and yet at the end of the week, he is, in his personal diary, emotionless and even vaguely disdainful on the subject of Marilyn Monroe.
It's also weird to write an account of something and leave out the best part and then go back five years later and, as an afterthought, get around to writing about your intimate friendship with a cinematic legend. There's nothing in his book specifically about Marilyn that he couldn't had found out. He claims that she told him all kinds of intimate details, which coincidentally appear in virtually every biography of her.
It is jaw dropping that so many people believe that all of this really happened. I guess people are eager to believe in what they like to believe.
Michelle Williams achieves the impossible. We believe she's Marilyn! Judi Dench is a hoot as Dame Sibyl Thorndike and Kenneth Brannagh has his moments. But the rest...Oh dear, Oh dear. Who though of Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh!? and Eddie Redmeyer, he's a good actor, I've seen him on stage, but here he is a hole on the screen. He doesn't project anything that could possibly touch us. I remember loving "The Prince And The Showgirl" and thinking how remarkable Marilyn was. With the benefit of hindsight she had managed to keep her performance as fresh as timeless as a real work of art. While Olivier, the"actor" of his generation seems stilted and dated. My week with Marilyn misses the mark, big time but Michelle Williams performance makes it a must.
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