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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.
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.
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.
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.
What else can I add to so many fabulous reviews and make it interesting
and different? Nothing really. But I want to, at least, contribute my
opinion about this mesmerizing movie experience. Michelle Williams was
for sure an Absolute Master capturing the essence of Marilyn and if we
don't compare them next to each other, we could perfectly well accept
that SHE WAS Marilyn, the symbiosis was TOTAL.
The movie is flawless in its development from the beginning of an inconsequential shooting routine schedule to the point where we are so involved and in love with the protagonist that we too would like to be in that bed next to her, embracing her and convincing her that her world isn't that bad after all.
There are many MAGIC moments and some of them moving you to tears, tears of empathy with that lonely girl in a frightening position that practically no one could carry successfully without paying a high price for it, as she eventually did too.
Great film, sublime film, from beginning to end. Flawless. Thank you to every one involved in this project, one of my favorites any time.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was excellently written and acted. The storyline is supposed
to show you how this one man got to fall in love and worship the very
desirable but helpless Marilyn Monroe. Yet those two characters (played
by Michelle Williams and Eddie Redmayne) do not monopolize all of the
attention in the movie. Yes you feel bad for the aching Marilyn and the
yearning Colin but you also feel bad for all of those people that had
to interact with them at this time. A very cute Emma Watson has a small
role as the girl who wanted to be Colin's girlfriend. When she gets
brushed aside for the sensual star you really feel bad for her. And the
producers and set workers of "The Prince and The Showgirl" get their
fair share of sympathy when you see how hard it was to work with the
angry Laurence Olivier and the bipolar Marilyn Monroe.
The setting of the film was beautiful, the vast colors, buildings and the waters were very pretty to look at and you really enjoy watching this somewhat naive boy fall under the spell of the biggest star of that time. Everyone knows what happened to Monroe, but when you watch this movie you forget that and you are hoping that she just runs away with this boy who wants nothing but to take care of her. Michelle Williams gives the best representation of Marilyn Monroe ever on screen, only Marilyn herself could have outshone her. She captured every little innuendo, every insecurity and every smile that made the late Marilyn famous.
This movie is well balanced in character, timing and emotion. Any fan of Monroe's will enjoy this film and everyone should give it a try. A look into who the real Marilyn was is too good a film to pass up, especially when it is done so well. Two thumbs up.
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