During the production of The Prince and the Showgirl, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) a young assistant of Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), gets caught up with the force of nature that is – Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). This isn’t a bad film; it’s a strange film. Director Simon Curtis beautifully constructed the incredibly sincere embodiments of the famous icons. The story, translated for the screen by Adrian Hodges was simple, succinct, light and fun, despite Marilyn’s turmoil. Due to a horrendous piece of casting I could not feel for, associate with or care about the protagonist Colin in the slightest.
Colin (Redmayne) is a silent partner, an inanimate passenger to the goings on; even when he’s involved in what’s happening. And although he does have interludes to develop his character like his brief fling with Emma Watson’s Lucy (the wardrobe girl), I could not ‘care’ about his character at all.
Williams’ breathes life into the iconic Munroe. Nailing the necessary sound and look of Monroe is integral to the performance and Williams demonstrates her capacity to truly embody a character. Despite her quite understated and solid performances to date – her transformation is surprising. Williams’ Marilyn knows the power of her stardom and abuses it; but the pressure of living up to the persona keeps her in a state of almost crippling fear. Williams delivers in every facet of the performance.
Branagh does his career best work as Olivier; particularly that signature Olivier enunciation. Olivier’s the great actor/director that’s having to wrap Monroe in cotton wool to deal with her ‘star’ status – and he gets very petulant, snide and ultimately very, very funny as he is more and more frustrated with her Diva antics. There’s a vein of sadness to Branagh’s Olivier that’s desperate to use the star power of Munroe to make him a star. Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike. Dench is warm, sweet and effortlessly graceful and had me smiling every moment that she was on screen.
Despite Marilyn’s erratic behaviour, fragile mental state, and strange moods; I could not believe that she would be remotely interested in the inanimate Colin. Not for a second.
My Week with Marilyn is a performance master class from Williams, Branagh, Dench, Ormond etc orbiting around the most boring protagonist that I’ve seen in recent memory.
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Written by: Adrian Hodges, Colin Clark (book)
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson and Judi Dench
My Week With Marilyn is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray and VOD.