Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Week With Marilyn

Marilyn Haste, Repent At Leisure!

My Week With Marilyn 2011 UK/US
Directed by Simon Curtis
Screening at
UK cinemas.

Funny how a little scrap of knowledge you pick up just before you start writing your review can dispel your main criticism of the subject matter. Doesn’t matter, still going to be a very short review and, in some ways, my enlightenment as to the source of the film I saw means I have even less to say about it than I did have when intending to put pen to paper, or in this case, intending to press fleshy fingertips against the cool, hard plastic keys of my Macbook.

The two brief points I was originally intending to make were that My Week With Marilyn is a pretty good film, well worth a watch and I was also going to go on to say, having read the diary it’s based on some years in the past (The Prince, The Showgirl and Me), that it didn’t quite make my Best Films of 2011 list because it was also a poor adaptation of the source.

However, now I’ve found out that My Week With Marilyn was based on, not one, but two accounts by the same writer (Colin Clark, played in the movie by Eddie Redmayne), I’d have to plead ignorance now as to whether this is a good adaptation or not as I haven’t read the other book.

What I can say, however, is that the movie has a very strong and positively star studded cast, even for the little walk on parts, and that everyone is extremely strong in their roles and this makes for a vastly entertaining movie which is well shot, pacily edited, has a nice jaunty score and doesn’t outstay its welcome in any way shape or form. There’s less emphasis given on the character of famous Sykes actor Richard Wattis than I would have expected from the book I read all those years ago, but ultimately it’s not a problem for me now I know the writers and producers were working from a dual source.

Special mention must go to Michelle Williams who really does successfully capture the flirtiness, confusion, insecurity and general sense of tragedy that was Marilyn Monroe a few years before her death. The performance (and script) are exactly as I have come to think of her from various written accounts through the years and it’s easy to see how she could have accidentally topped herself when she was in this state (if that is indeed what actually happened to her).

This is a really slick production and represents the time period in a bright and nostalgic way (as opposed to going with a more gritty, realistic approach) but the romanticisation of this period didn’t bother me in this one because it’s a quick effective way to bring the period to life and, also, because to someone who is perpetually in the limelight and roaming from interview to film set to camera flash, maybe the reality of the situation did seem somewhat altered by the reflection that a person’s choice of profession engenders.

The idea that Marilyn was a personae projected by Marilyn is very blatantly highlighted in this movie and the realisation of the character becoming lost in her own “legend” while still having very lucid moments of not being that image, really is not a bad thing to call to the attention of the audience of this film. It might even lead some of its viewers to explore the life of the titular character and some of the other famous names that come up... after following in his footsteps for so long as the “new Laurence Olivier”, I bet it was a real blast for Kenneth Brannagh to actually find himself playing the man in question.

I gave this one an honourable mention in my Best Films of 2011 list and would happily suggest that anyone who’s even remotely interested in the people captured in this roaring snapshot of a movie should check this one out... it’s rare that anyone playing Marilyn comes out on top as anything more than a caricature of the bottled screen presence of Norma Jean. This movie does things a little better than most.


  1. Even though the film itself is terribly flawed, Michelle Williams somehow saves this film with her near-perfect performance that captures not only the iconic charm of Monroe, but also the vulnerability of her real-life character, and makes it seem more than just an extended impersonation like something Will Smith did in Ali. Great review. Give mine a look when you can.

  2. Hi there.

    Thanks for stopping by. Just read your review and left a comment.

    Cheers dude.

  3. I think I disliked Eddie Redmayne too much to enjoy this film. I mention this because it's not often that a single actor can disrupt my emotional donations to an interesting tale.

    Eddie's odd smile did that, though. His odd expressions were never completely readable, and it's HIS face that does this. Not his acting. It's his skin, his musculature, his face.

    It's odd. Not common. I will be watching for his other works to see if I can confirm this "I don't like his face and it ruins films for me therefore" hypothesis.

    Charlotte Rampling and Toni Collette are odd faces that I do enjoy. Charles Laughton, too. But he's not odd - he's ugly Fat, short, ungainly. How in the WORLD he becomes such an enjoyable character with so many of my favorite films, I have NO IDEA.

    Margaret Rutherford's face is enjoyable because it's such a mask at times, and so incredibly expressive others. She's got this nova-smile - like Mt Vesuvius erupting - when she goes into 'full smile' mood. All that flesh, suddenly parting for a smile. But other times, all that cascading flesh goes 'deadpan' or sly twitches, so well conveyed by film closeups.

  4. Ha. I know what you mean. There are a few actors who put me off going to see a movie... but I'm not going to tell who. ;-)