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Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in Marilyn Monroe, Movies, Old Hollywood | 0 comments

Movie Review: My Week With Marilyn

I felt a lot of trepidation about seeing My Week With Marilyn, as I mentioned in my previous post about the movie coming out. I have been a huge Monroe fan all of my life. I have over 10 books about her, countless canvases and posters, even a few random items with her likeness on them that were gifts from friends and family-tins, coasters, watches, jewelry stands, alarm clocks. I have always has an affinity for those timeless photographs of her, so of course, you can imagine my happiness mixed with hesitation over the choice of Michelle Williams….

The movie, THE MOVIE, I will get to Michelle Williams in a minute….but the MOVIE- was exquisite. My Week With Marilyn transports you right back to the making of the Prince and the Showgirl, in the UK in 1956. The set is all British castles and lush greenery, the costumes are divine. Every actor is in top shape with riveting performances from Judi Dench, Kenneth Branaugh, and Eddie Redmaye.

The real Colin Clark!

A very handsome blue-eyed wonder named Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clark, the protagonist of this true story whose first job was being the third assistant to the director for the Prince and the Show Girl. The Prince and the Showgirl was a film made by Sir Laurence Olivier’s production company at the height of Marilyn Monroe’s career. Olivier and Monroe had a very tumultuous working relationship, and she caused him much distress while making this film because of her infamous tardiness and inability to do any scene in one take. Girlfrenn was not the most professional actress on the block. As Colin Clark explains to Marilyn very eloquently in the film, “[Marilyn] is a film star who desperately wants to be a serious actress, and [Olivier] is a serious actor that wants desperately to be a film star.”

Kenneth Branaugh plays Sir Laurence Olivier marvelously. Branuagh, who most notably has played every Shakespearean character known to man, was absolutely born to play this uptight snooty British actor who often recites long sonnets and poetry. Branaugh and Redmayne are absolutely brilliant, as is the story of this young 23 year old falling head over heels for THE seductress of the 20th century.

….Of course you’re all wondering, what about Williams? What about Williams….it’s something I am having a hard time describing. Williams absolutely nailed the walk and the infantalizing ways of Marilyn. She was the dippy, coquettish, at times magnetic seductress that was Miss.Monroe. She also nailed the confusion, the mannerisms, Williams had all that. And I have to say, after seeing the movie, I certainly can’t think of anyone else to play her, especially an actress that takes her craft very seriously, and is up for the task of playing an icon…however…

…The truth is that Marilyn Monroe was a goddess of an icon, in an era that no longer exists. There are no true movie stars anymore. The age of paparazzi and being able to see your favorite sirens of the screen going grocery shopping in yoga pants has killed it. The illusion is gone, and being able to portray a woman, one of the most elusive icons of our time, is pretty much impossible. It’s not Williams’ fault, and she did a great job, arguably the best job portraying a woman who is near impossible to portray. At this point, Monroe is a construction, an illusion created by society. I’m not sure anyone could do a better job than Michelle Williams, and whatever is lacking just is not her fault.

The real Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl..too beautiful for imitation

Also, I found it somewhat distracting that Williams is not even a tenth as beautiful. I’m not trying to be mean, it’s literally distracting. And every mannerism was great, but I kept trying to imagine it being the real Marilyn, like what she would actually look like performing those actions.

Lucky for viewers, the entire portrayal was much more realistic than that terrible tranny-Marilyn spread in Vogue!

All in all, the film is a great success, and honestly one of the best films of the year. Regardless of Marilyn being an elusive icon or not, Williams did a bang-up job, and it was definitely the best portrayal I could ever imagine. Did I lose myself thinking Williams was Marilyn? No. An amazing film experience that old-Hollywood fans should see? Absolutely.

A promotional shot of the real Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe from The Prince and The Showgirl

 “Marilyn was terrible to work with. I remember I was talking to Olivier who was working with her for the Prince and the Showgirl. He was saying it was a miracle to get her to do anything. But then he said, “I finish the day, I go to look at the rushes, and she has batted me right off the screen. That was Marilyn.”

-Richard Widmark

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