‘My Week With Marilyn’ is a true story based on the book ‘The Prince, The Showgirl and Me’ by documentarian Colin Clark. The black sheep of his family, 23-year-old naïve and idealistic Colin finds solace at the cinema and longs to work in the movies. He strikes it lucky when he’s hired to be the Third Assistant Director to Sir Laurence Olivier on his next production staring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams, ‘Blue Valentine). Colin (Eddie Redmayne, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’) becomes privy to the “real” Marilyn Monroe, soon becoming her confidant and, as so many men before him did, falls in love with the screen siren. Through all of this, a film is still to be made. Marilyn drives everyone on the film crazy, in particular, Olivier (Kenneth Branagh, ‘Valkyrie’). Her drug dependency as well as her chaotic and unpredictable mental state cause her to constantly arrive hours late to set (if at all), and is a slave to her oppressive and sycophantic “method” acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker, ‘Harry Potter’). The question soon becomes not when, but If then film will ever be completed.
Williams’ portrayal of the icon is effortless. While she may have had some artificial help to achieve the stars famous curves and lacks that certain va-va-voom that, let's face it, only Marilyn had, she nails her vulnerability and despair (that, let's face it, only Williams could do). Redmayne is equally good as the boy caught up in the glamour of filmmaking and the all-encompassing bright star that is Marilyn Monroe. Branagh completes the triangle as the unsympathetic master Olivier, just trying, ineffectively, to bring his romanticised image of Monroe to life in the real world and on screen.
Other performance highlights are the all too brief appearances by Dame Judy Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh and ‘Harry Potter’s’ Emma Watson as a jilted wardrobe assistant Colin fancies pre-Marilyn.
Williams’ portrayal of the icon is effortless.
The subject matter of the film is handled lightly and just right with care and respect. No one is naïve or dismissive to Monroe’s real-life problems but as a figure who is still so idolised all these years later, one doesn’t want to trample on that. Filmmaker Simon Curtis has chosen this film to simply let the audience take a peek inside this life of demons and empathise with its protagonist; letting us know that her infamous behaviour was not the result of pre-thought, but genetic circumstance and aided by those around her all hanging on to the character of Marilyn Monroe and not the woman underneath.
This film is for anyone and everyone who believes in truth, who’s a lover of old Hollywood and wants to see the price of fame and what truly great acting looks like.