Friday, March 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—My Week With Marilyn (2011) ***

R, 99 min.
Director: Simon Curtis
Writers: Adrian Hodges, Colin Clark (books “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Prince, The Showgirl and Me”)
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Zoë Wanamaker, Philip Jackson, Julia Ormond, Toby Jones, Dougray Scott

I’m a little unsure of what to say about “My Week with Marilyn”. I enjoyed it. The performances are excellent. I’m just not sure it really tells us much of anything about the American icon.

Taken from a couple of memoirs by the production assistant and future documentary director Colin Clark, who willed himself onto Laurence Olivier’s production of “The Prince and the Showgirl”, it depicts Marilyn as an unpredictable and high maintenance movie star. It also depicts Olivier as a bit of a blowhard, who didn’t like having his production hijacked by Marilyn’s mood swings. The movie doesn’t really portray how much pressure is on a director in a big film production. You really can’t blame the guy for getting a little ticked off.

The story isn’t particularly revelatory, but the performances are so wonderful that you enjoy getting the opportunity to be with these superstars for a little while. Kenneth Branagh does not look particularly like Olivier, but there are some shots here where the resemblance is uncanny. Michelle Williams brings great weight to the role of Marilyn. She’s called upon mostly to capture that elusive and destructive side of the beauty, but she manages Marilyn’s moments of levity and natural attraction with such ease that it’s clear why this enigma was such a sensation.

I would’ve liked to see more of Emma Watson’s costume girl. She gets shafted both by Colin and the script.

There isn’t really much here not to like. There also isn’t a whole lot to laud with praise in terms of story. But, the performances are the things to catch this conscience. I suppose that’s enough to recommend it. 

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