Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during the production of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during the production of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during the production of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
The Goddess, filmed during Monroe's lifetime (around the time this movie is set, in fact) couldn't have used her name, and it's much the better for that constraint. The Goddess doesn't constantly force us to compare Kim Stanley's fantastic performance with the real Marilyn Monroe, because it doesn't constantly CALL her Marilyn Monroe. My Week with Marilyn doesn't give us that freedom, the freedom to appreciate Michelle Williams's performance on its own merits rather than as an impersonation of a much more charismatic and distinctive star than she is herself.
Viewers more familiar with Williams than with Monroe can rave about this performance, because they're not comparing it to anything. To them, Monroe is just a dizzy blonde standing over a subway grate with her skirt billowing up around her, and Williams plays THAT role as well as anyone else could. But she can't for one second deceive anybody who has experienced Monroe (seeing her is only part of the delight) in more than one scene from one movie.
Half of Monroe's power as a performer is in her face, one of the most beautiful and naturally expressive faces God ever made, and that's why NO actress can EVER successfully play her. No one else has that face.
Using a fictitious name would also have relieved them of having to portray the insufferably shallow and narcissistic Laurence Olivier, the most overrated actor who ever lived. I realize that they based this movie on Colin Clark's highly dubious and self-aggrandizing "memoirs" of his brief contact with Monroe, and therefore had some justification for their choices, but that was a mistake.
One of many mistakes. Worst: the stupid screenplay, which treated Clark's adolescent fantasy as truth and made it even more ludicrous than it already was. Second: the hackneyed direction that makes a story about interesting and real people seem as false as a soap opera. Third: the miscasting of every role in the movie.
Although the most egregiously miscast are Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, Dominic Cooper as Milton Greene, and plodding Julia Ormond as ethereal Vivien Leigh, NONE of the actors convincingly portray the real persons they are supposed to be. Even Judi Dench is maudlin and icky as the decidedly UN-maudlin and UN-icky Sybil Torndike. I suppose Branagh is sufficiently pretentious and boring as Olivier, but the movie would have been better without that character.
The one good thing about this movie is that it calls attention to Marilyn Monroe. If it had motivated even one person who'd never done so to watch her movies, it would have been worthwhile.
- Aug 27, 2014