My Week With Marilyn (Rated R, 98 minutes)
My Week With Marilyn is the farthest thing from perfect, yet I was swept away by the overall product. A film about film; this movie follows Colin Clark, the third assistant director for The Prince and the Showgirl. While not exactly a chronicle of Marilyn Monroe, instead this focuses on the unique relationship between the third ‘AD’ and the infamous actress. Now despite its imperfect nature, this film exudes a charm due to the cast’s confidence in the material and the audience adopts this charm because of the ‘wide-eyed’ optimism of the protagonist.
Now, My Week With Marilyn does suffer from some cheesy writing and ‘amateurish’ directing. At times, the dialogue is laughably bad: for instance, when Colin (Eddie Redmayne) goes on a date with the underutilized Lucy (Emma Watson), their dialogue is cringe-worthy. Also, I do not understand the use of Emma Watson in such a small role; perhaps there was a bigger role left on the cutting room floor, but in the movie her character is underdeveloped and clichéd. Also, the script is filled with ghastly exposition, which results in annoying voiceovers sprinkled throughout the movie. I understand that the newer generations do not know Marilyn Monroe, but the exposition and voiceovers are unbearable.
With that said, this is a movie that truly succeeds on the shoulders of the cast. For example, the close up shot where Laurence Olivier stares into a mirror spouting Shakespeare’s Othello is a terribly written and directed scene; but with Kenneth Branagh, a trained Shakespearean actor, it almost works. This is ‘simple directing’ at it’s finest. The director, Simon Curtis, knew the type of film he was making: a character study.
Both Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams deserved the Oscars they were nominated for. Kenneth Branagh’s background perfectly suits the egotistical Laurence Olivier; while he seems to be playing a mixed version of himself and Olivier, he is still magnificent. Even our lead, Eddie Redmayne, perfectly radiates this naïve optimism that navigates us through the film. While both give suitable performances, both actors realize that they are not the center of the film; just like any showcase performance Michelle Williams steals every scene that she is in.
She is absolutely astonishing; between her mannerisms and voice, she perfectly encapsulates Marilyn. She even captures the vulnerability that made Marilyn so famous, which elevates Williams’s performance from a simple caricature. Now, I do have to commend the writer, Adrian Hodges, for the depth that is given to Marilyn. She comes off bubbly and ditzy, but the character never loses the feeling of being multi-faceted: she is more than a beautiful blonde that spouts one-liners. As a result, no matter what state Marilyn is in during the movie, she seduces the audience.
The seduction is a result of Williams’s acting, which anyone could empathize with; Williams perfectly copies this ‘girl next door’ relate-ability that made Marilyn the superstar of film lore. However, not all the facets of Marilyn Monroe are correctly explored; the film had problems properly depicting Monroe’s addiction to pills. While My Week With Marilyn mentions her induced coma state, her pill addiction is never displayed in a serious tone. It is merely used as a plot device to progress the story forward; in hindsight of what happened, this improper use of a serious subject comes off as unethical.
With that said, even with the self-aware nature, My Week With Marilyn gives an interesting perspective on the film process. Michelle Williams gives the performance of a lifetime, and with the help of her cast, elevates a film that could have been average.