By Marc S. Sanders
Simon Curtis directs a glimpse into the life of Marilyn Monroe with an exquisitely cast Michelle Williams in the title role of My Week With Marilyn.
The film is told through the perspective of 23 year old Colin Clarke played under dream like naivety from Eddie Redmayne. Clarke embarks on joining the production crew of Sir Laurence Olivier’s (pompously over played by Kenneth Branagh) newest film that he is directing and starring in, opposite Monroe. When Marilyn’s new husband, playwright Arthur Miller, returns to the states, Colin is drawn into Marilyn’s seduction; protecting her from an intimidating Olivier and tolerating her drug and alcohol use.
This film features an outstanding cast of who’s who from Dame Judi Dench to Emma Watson to Dougray Scott, Julia Ormand (playing a past her prime Vivienne Leigh), Toby Jones and Dominic Cooper. An amazing cast and amazing performances all around.
Still, I just wasn’t wild about the film. With her life startlingly cut short, Marilyn Monroe is arguably one of the biggest enigmas to come out of Hollywood, and yet this tiny glimpse into her life just wasn’t interesting enough for me.
Fully aware of her impending doom to come, the sad foreshadowing of pills on her dresser, and her unfamiliar stupors didn’t drive anything for the character. It all becomes repetitious with nothing new to say. Colin’s virginal experience with this celebrity tryst never drives anywhere but back into Marilyn’s bed after he’s requested to appear at any given hour. This occurs again and again. The film just doesn’t progress past these moments. I found myself saying “I’ve seen this already!”
Did Marilyn learn anything from this fleeting moment in her lifetime? Did Colin? Maybe Colin got to witness the dichotomy of the privately ill Marilyn versus her ability to turn on the public charm with curvaceous ease and a wide lipstick smile. Yet, I have to wonder what came of it for Colin, thereafter.
Redmayne is quite good in his naive innocence. He inhabits nearly every scene since the story is told from Colin’s experience. Storywise though, what was the point of all this really?
Williams as Marilyn is astonishing. As good at playing a Hollywood legend as when Cate Blanchett deservedly won her Oscar for playing Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. My one wish is that Williams accepted the role with a much more dimensional and nuanced script.
Perhaps because of the mystery that always seemed to surround Marilyn, Williams will never get the chance at playing the bombshell in something better. Marilyn’s life was so dubious and questionable. What filmmakers would be brave enough to truly make claim of how the starlet lived and how she died?
I can wish for another Marilyn portrayal to come one day, with Michelle Williams in the role, but alas I won’t hold my breath.