Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn is a fluffy piece of entertainment aimed at men of a certain age who can fantasise that they too could have been the young Colin Clark, who blagged his way onto the set of the Laurence Olivier/Marilyn Monroe film The Prince and the Showgirl. As Clark tells it in his book (which might play a bit fast and loose with the truth) Arthur Miller (Marilyn's third husband) left the production after a row with Monroe and he, Clark, spent a week as Marilyn's assistant and supposed romantic plaything.
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The movie is deliberately lightweight fare in the mode of The King's Speech or any of those awful Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant films, but somehow this flick is more engaging. Ken Branagh does his party turn as the aging Olivier (and does it very well of course), Julia Ormond is Vivien Leigh, Eddie Redmayne is the young Colin Clark and a transcendent Michelle Williams captures some of the essence and magic of Monroe. The opening act is very breezy and the film only bogs a little near the end when everyone becomes very wise and begins spouting improbable screenwriter's dialogue. "I cast Marilyn to recapture my own youth through her," "Olivier is a great actor who wants to be a movie star and you are a movie star who wants to be a great actress," etc.
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There are nice performances from a pixie-like Emma Watson as a wardrobe assistant and a regal Judy Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike but the real pleasure in My Week is Michelle Williams's incredible performance as a vulnerable, funny, sad, radiant Marilyn Monroe. I reckon My Week With Marilyn is the real reason Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got divorced. Katie saw this on DVD a few weeks ago and thought my God, I was the star of Dawson's Creek not Michelle Williams, what the hell has happened to my career! And of course this was not even Michelle Williams's best performance of last year which came in the minimalist western that no one saw, the underrated, Meek's Cutoff.