My Week with Marilyn (2011)


Marilyn, Is It True You Wear Nothing in Bed but Perfume?

I had wanted to see today’s movie for a long time, but I don’t think I had first known about it until it was out of theaters.  But I kept seeing videos about the movie on the televisions at Best Buy and my interest was captured.  I didn’t have the greatest of reasons to have any interest in this movie, though.  It seemed like a drama, so that would generally be a turn off.  I also have little to no knowledge of the actress that this movie is based on.  What I did have was a supreme interest in seeing the actress they got to play her be really sexy in the role, and I also had some deeper interest in the movie beyond the superficial that I could never put my finger on, but I’m going to try to put my finger on it right now in my review of My Week with Marilyn, written by Adrian Hodges and Colin Clark, directed by Simon Curtis, and starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Zoe Wanamaker, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper, Derek Jacobi, Philip Jackson, Toby Jones, Geraldine Somerville, Michael Kitchen, and Peter Wight.

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) has always been obsessed with film and, fresh out of university, resolves to get a job on a film.  He goes to the office of Hugh Perceval (Michael Kitchen) and waits until a job comes available.  Eventually, that job comes in the form of Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and his wife Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond), when Vivien talks Laurence into giving Colin a job as third assistant director on his upcoming production of The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).  Colin begins to handle a few odd jobs around the set and starts to court a wardrobe assistant named Lucy (Emma Watson).  Marilyn’s acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), begins to make the set a hostile workplace because Olivier does not find merit in her particular brand of coaching.  He’s also not too fond of Marilyn’s tardiness and trouble with the lines.  Colin and Marilyn begin to develop a friendship that seems to help her on set by making her a little more cheerful, but her business partner, Milton H. Greene (Dominic Cooper), warns Colin that she will break his heart.

I think I had found myself building this movie up in my head a lot before I finally got to see it.  Something about the movie intrigued me so much that I was actually very excited for it, and counting the days until it arrived at a RedBox.  Now that I’ve watched it, I’m pretty sure I liked it, but I’m still working through why.  I felt like the story may have been a little confusing to me, but there’s also a chance that they went into this movie expecting everyone to be well aware of the life and times of Marilyn Monroe.  All I really know about her is that she sang Happy Birthday to a president once.  That being the case, there was back story that I had to rush to piece together as I watched the movie, and then more things to figure out during it.  I kind of felt as if I should have done some research going into this movie.  I understood basically what was going on, but there were a couple of things that I’m still a little confused about.  At one point, Marilyn wakes up and complains of pain, saying she doesn’t want to lose the baby.  This was about an hour and 10 minutes into the movie and I was previously unaware that she was pregnant.  Even now, I can’t say for sure.  They never came out and said in the movie if she actually did have a miscarriage or if she was just hopped up on pills and confused by a dream or something.  At the end of the movie, Marilyn apologizes to the crew of the movie right after it wraps, and I’m not really sure why about that either.  I thought she was trying to say that she was unable to get the film released or something, but I looked it up online and that movie came out.  And the Wikipedia page (the one true source of all knowledge) did nothing to shed light on the situation.  There were a couple of side stories that seemed to deserve a little more weight, and a couple that never really got tied up.  For instance, what happened with Lucy?  Did they try again after Marilyn left?  I don’t know.  I guess there’s a certain point where a movie has to end and the rest of the character’s lives are open for interpretation, but I sometimes don’t appreciate being confused by a movie.  Generally, it’s a sign of poor writing, but in this situation, I blame it on the subject matter.  The story’s written from one person’s point of view, so the rest of the story could only be his speculation.  Also, I may just be dumb.  All that being said, I tended to find myself fairly riveted by this movie and was paying close attention to it, so I can’t really blame my confusion on my lack of attention.  But I could say that I enjoyed it because the movie invoked some emotion from me, as well as being genuinely interesting to watch.  It was also a beautiful movie to look at.  They seemed to go to all the most beautiful places in the movie, and they were also using the same places, such as Pinewood Studios.  Also, the scene that mainly made me interested in seeing the movie in the first place (a pretty beautifully filmed bit of singing and dancing by Marilyn/Michelle Williams) was right in the opening of the film.

I think the performances in this movie are probably what deserves most of the credit for my fondness for it.  Michelle Williams was pretty amazing as Marilyn.  Not only did she seem to embody the public persona of Marilyn Monroe, but she knocked it out of the park when she was just trying to be herself as well.  She had some good emotional parts and some decent comedic moments as well and, more importantly, really gets you to connect with her and Marilyn Monroe and begin to understand what she was going through.  Kudos should also be given to what I assume is her body double, who got her butt out twice in the movie and it was spectacular.  Spellbinding, really.  I didn’t feel like the male lead, Eddie Redmayne, did very much for me.  He didn’t have a lot of heavy lifting to his performance, and I didn’t like the look of his face, but his performance was pretty real.  Kenneth Branagh was as good as he typically is in movies, getting a couple of opportunities to freak out.  Emma Watson was good (and I’m also in love with her), but her part in the movie wasn’t that meaty.  Another thing that caught my attention about the movie was that it had some pretty huge names in supporting roles and a relative unknown in the lead.  I didn’t know who Eddie Redmayne was before I saw this movie, but Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench, and a couple other big name actors were in some of the smaller roles in the movie, and I thought that was interesting.  Apparently not that interesting though.  I have a headache, give me a break!

Though I admit a large degree of confusion from this movie, I still walked out being pretty fond of it.  The story lost me in a few parts, but was almost always something I couldn’t take my eyes off of.  It was probably mostly due to a couple of outstanding performances, namely Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh.  Also, Emma Watson is gorgeous.  Michelle Williams is too, but from this point on I would demand she wear her hair Marilyn Monroe style if she wanted to date me.  Make your choice, Williams.  I could understand some people not having that much interest in this movie, but it might surprise you.  I picked it up from RedBox and enjoyed it for slightly more than a dollar, and now I’ll probably be purchasing it.  I think you’ll get more than a dollar’s worth of enjoyment out of it.  And, with that, I give My Week with Marilyn “Come to the set on time tomorrow and show everyone what you can do.  Show Larry that you’re a great actress” out of “Oh, you have that word in England too?”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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