Allow me to start off this review by apologizing for not updating any part of this site for almost three months at this point. Several weeks after I first formed this website I started to lose inspiration to write anything at all, and that drought lasted a considerable amount of time. Hopefully starting now I can begin to update this site more frequently. I am planning on about three to four posts a week, and possibly more if I have that much to write about. If there are any of you that are still sticking around then I greatly appreciate it and once again I apologize for not doing anything on here these last two and a half months. Now on to the review:
Marilyn Monroe was an interesting character. There is no debating that. She died at the age of 36 and during the years in which she was alive she was married and divorced three times and managed to star in 33 titles alongside some of the greatest performers of all time such as Jack Lemmon and Laurence Olivier. Her single work with the later of the two is the basis of this film: My Week With Marilyn.
Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne) came from a wealthy family and wanted nothing more than to “run away to to the circus” and become a part of the film industry. At some point in his life Colin met Laurence Olivier who made some promise to get him a job working on one of his productions. The origin of their relationship isn’t explored at all so we’re left to piece it together ourselves. The film begins some time after that where Colin is ready to get a job. So naturally he shows up at Olivier Productions looking for a position. He’s turned down so he stays there all day, every day, for several days and ultimately ends up showing his worth when he takes over for the secretary for the day. One day while he is there he runs into Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh who helps to get him a job on his next film “The Prince and The Showgirl” which is planning on starring Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Olivier is played by the always excellent Kenneth Branagh and he truly shines in his role. Not only does he actually look a bit like Olivier did at the time but he also manages to display his inner frustration perfectly. It is a subtle performance but a marvelous one none the less. Colin gets a position as the third assistant director and does all of the menial work that that position entails leading up to the arrival of Miss Monroe. It is once she arrives that things finally get interesting.
Michelle Williams is, in my mind, the most talented actress of her generation and she proves that here by delivering a perfect performance. She embodies Monroe to the point where I felt like I was actually watching Monroe rather than watching someone play her. It is an excellent performance that manages to encapsulate Monroe in exactly the same way that we remember her. She was intelligent, ditzy, and funny, but most of all she was scared. She was looking for someone to protect her from he world. For someone who loved the true Marilyn. Not the one that had been formed through the media. It was that search that led her to three different husbands by the time she was thirty. This film highlights her brief relationship with her husband Arthur Miller. It doesn’t take too long for him to get fed up with her and make his way back to New York for a break. It is during this time of abandonment that Marilyn discovers Colin.
Colin was just supposed to be an assistant whose only job was to do whatever Olivier instructed him to do, and yet somehow he formed a close, albeit brief, relationship with the starlet. He was her escape from the stress of the set and her insecurities, and he was her true source of support and encouragement during the filming. The immediate attachment to Colin is hinted at by Marilyn as she believes that he is one of the few people who will love her, rather than the Marilyn that the public has come to know. This leads to an interesting aspect of the film that explores identity and how it is effected by celebrity.
One of my favorite scenes holds an example of this. Colin takes Marilyn to the Windsor Castle and walks her around it, and on their way out they run into a frenzied crowd. The crowd is shouting and clapping at the sight of Marilyn and she turns to Colin and whispers “Shall I be her?”. In that moment you realize that Marilyn is an entirely separate from her actual personality. This aspect of the story adds another layer to the character of Marilyn.
Naturally Colin fell in love with Marilyn during their time together and they spent a great deal of time together. Some good and some bad. This all lead up to Marilyn having much greater success on the film and with Olivier until the project was finished. From the beginning you know that Colin and Marilyn aren’t going to end up together, and that poses a type of problem for the third act. How are they going to make something interesting happen when you know the inevitable.
Well somehow they did it and the final product ended up being a solid film with an interesting story that is brought to life by brilliant performances. Not bad at all.