Heather's DVD Review: My Week With Marilyn
Is it possible to portray a legendary movie icon/sex symbol and do the person justice? That happened and much more with the DVD release of My Week With Marilyn, which examined a brief time in one legendary Hollywood star's career.
My Week With Marilyn initially followed the lovestruck Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who took a chance and defied his traditional British upbringing to enter a career of filmmaking. He ended up with a job as an assistant to Laurence Olivier's (Kenneth Branagh) production company and is hired to work on his directorial debut The Prince and the Showgirl. Olivier's nerves were getting the better of him as the filming start date neared and his fears of working with the famously complicated Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Monroe was an American film star who was a stranger to England's customs and just entered her latest marriage to famous writer Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). Her fears led to some production delays and frustrated her director/costar to no end. Enter Colin who struck up a friendship with Monroe that allowed her to feel comfortable in her own skin. Can Colin persuade her to give up the Hollywood grind to be with him or only have the memory of their time together?
In terms of plot, Marilyn's was an intriguing examination of how Hollywood can seduce even the most mild mannered of individuals. No one could stand a chance against the charms of the troubled Monroe. Her smile could literally melt the strongest men into rubber. The industry that made her famous also could've led to her destruction as well by supplying with just the right number of pills to get Monroe to function the way they wanted her to. Marilyn examined that plot point very briefly and ended up foreshadowing her fateful demise. The movie also gave an intriguing examination of old Hollywood history and how the stars were able to work and behave a certain way without any scandal being revealed. Sadly, present day Hollywood has every bump and bruise put on display for the world to read about in just about every tabloid imaginable.
In terms of breakthrough performances, Williams created a strong portrayal of Marilyn that went beyond the page and turned her into a flesh and blood woman. She got the look down and even managed to cover her signature walk just right. What wasn't on the page was that Williams was able to tap into Monroe's damaged psyche that seemed to contradict itself. She wanted to be loved like a regular girl, but she also wanted to be worshipped by the world. That was what doomed Monroe in her personal life. Williams deserved to be nominated for an Oscar, because she captured Monroe's humor as she charmed everyone and mourned for a family that she never had. Audiences couldn't help but feel sorry for her when she told Colin of her institutionalized mother and her non-existent father.
The supporting cast also did a decent job in capturing the scene around the film production. Branagh perfectly captured Olivier's extraordinary talent and his extra large ego that threatened to tank the production. Branagh also gave his film idol a sense of dignified fear of getting older and becoming more irrelevant in his career. That's why he chose to cast the risky and financially wise choice of Monroe. Marilyn also had some important cameos from Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh) and Judi Dench (Sybil Thorndike). Both Dench and Ormond delivered some of the movie's lines and helped to streamline the story a little further. As always, Dench was the comic relief and the one to set everyone else straight.
Even though Redmayne's Colin was the one telling the story, it felt a little one sided at times. It's understandable that this was Colin's story of Marilyn. The story should've been Marilyn's alone. Redmayne did a valiant effort of portraying Colin as a flesh and blood character, but at times his Colin felt more like a lovestruck schoolboy than her friend. The movie's only true casualty is Dougray Scott's Arthur Miller who was given very little to do and he virtually disappeared far too early in the movie. Hopefully, Hollywood will one day write a story about Miller's life and his stories with the same level of detail. Let's hope that's the case.
Verdict: Williams gives a remarkable performance as more than a sex symbol Monroe that well deserved the award nominations.
DVD Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)