Title: My Week With Marilyn
Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Julia Ormond, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper and Judi Dench
Being in awe of celebrity is reason enough to write about that experience, especially if it was a personal and long-lasting experience. This is not a new theme explored by Hollywood. The latest one that comes to mind was Richard Linklater’s “Me and Orson Welles,” this experience gains a bit of insight to celebrity, catching the figure in an honest light. In the new film from Simon Curtis, “My Week With Marilyn” explores intimate moments between the author of the source material, Colin Clark and movie star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), but what is offered in this film is old fashioned Hollywood movie making, clumsy writing and story structure and overall, a far too conventional film to receive high praise.
The film takes place in 1956, while Marilyn Monroe went to London for the first time to star in the new film, “The Prince and The Showgirl,” by Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). A young assistant director, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), gets caught in-between two styles of acting and filmmaking, Monroe is more Hollywood and Olivier is more classic theatrical, and is forced to get the production back on track. In the meantime, the relationship between Clark and Monroe flourishes into a short-lived love affair. But what this film hopes to strive for doesn’t really hit as well as it feels it should. “My Week With Marilyn” is a very middle of the road kind of film. It doesn’t try to do anything more than what it’s confined to do and in that way, it’s watchable but if you’re looking for something more, it isn’t here with “My Week With Marilyn”.
The narrative and writing is clunky by never really giving a clear path or intension of the protagonist. Also questions of who is the actual protagonist. If it’s Colin Clark, as the title suggest, then nothing is really gained or learned, and this is not a character study so that can’t be considered in the equation. If it’s Marilyn Monroe, which would seem more apt seeing how she evolves into something more by the end of it, then the titles is a misnomer and Colin Clark is a weak enough character to be considered a cypher. Either way, their motivations are never really interesting enough to care. A subplot with a wardrobe girl, Lucy (Emma Watson), doesn’t add up to anything and feels like it’s only in the movie because it happened in real life, and it feels like a real missed opportunity. The true conflict is between Monroe and Olivier, the old way clashing with the new, but this is never really explored outside of what’s on the surface.
The real takeaway from “My Week With Marilyn” is Michelle Williams portrayal of the iconic bombshell. Williams is charming and bubbly, alluring and convincing. And for a moment you think of her as Marilyn Monroe instead of an actress playing Marilyn Monroe. After all, Marilyn Monroe was a character herself played by Norma Jeane Mortenson (Baker), the idea of sex and curves oozed into celebrity. This idea is explored in only a few lines in the film. She conveys a certain preciseness in every scene but has no direction to take that precision. Williams’ performance and range is apparent on the screen and no one can take that away from the film. She gracefully glides across the screen and demands your complete attention, but sadly this goes to waste without a strong director.
“My Week With Marilyn” is a serviceable mess of a movie. An audience will be in awe of Michelle Williams performance of Marilyn Monroe but won’t takeaway the narrative or character building. Nothing is more interesting than a conventional film that doesn’t what to be conventional, and it shows.