My Week With Marilyn: "People Always See Marilyn Monroe. As Soon As They Realize I'm Not Her, They Run"

Director: Simon Curtis
Writer:    Adrian Hodges
Starring: Michelle Williams
               Kenneth Branagh
               Eddie Redmayne
               Emma Watson
               Judi Dench
               Dominic Cooper
               Dougray Scott
               Julia Ormand
               Derek Jacobi
               Zoe Wanamaker
Rating:    *****

Release date: Out Now (Last Chance)

A look at the life of one of the sexiest stars in cinema history, Marilyn Monroe. With brilliant direction and an actress to die for, it really is a film not to be missed.

Marilyn Monroe (Williams) and Laurence Olivier (Branagh) were certainly an unlikely pair in 1957 comedy The Prince And The showgirl, but their many differences is what created that spark behind the scenes. She was a creature of instinct, deferring to 'The Method' to find her character, and he was a classically trained actor, lacking the patience for such soul searching. Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh really make this film special and are able to bring every scene to life, even if it is a little too rose-coloured when seen through the naive eyes of Colin Clark (Redmayne).

Clark is the young production runner, and it is his memoir this film is based on. Redmayne portrays Clark with an rather dazed expression, and judging by Williams hard hitting performance, it's easy to see why Marilyn had such an effect on him. Apart from her obvious assets (cough), Williams manages to find the perfect balance between her bouncing childlike enthusiasm and the deep anxiety that dragged her down. Clark is soon moved to protect the delicate Ms Monroe from Olivier (her then director and co-star) and his aggressive outbursts. He would be extremely awful to watch if it wasn't for Branagh's magical way of spinning every line into comedy gold with his Shakespearean sense of rhythm and timing. And luckily his humanity gets to shine through later on.

Fellow actress Dame Sybil Thorndike (Dench), brings a wry smile with her, and is just as protective of Marilyn, coming across like a ditsy aunt who actually knows very well what she is doing. In this instance, she trying to build Marilyn's confidence. Unfortunately though, Marilyn is often still in bed instead of on the set, trying to sleep off a hangover or sparked out on pills. It falls on Clark to try and lift her spirits, and the film soon becomes more about his growing pains, as he's set up for imminent heartbreak, and less about Marilyn's struggle. There are moments of light relief, like a trip to Windsor Castle and a bit of skinny dipping too, but director Simon Curtis is clearly less happy about trying to unravel her complexities, keeping this as a backstory instead of the focus.

Arguably, it is the dangerous and sexual nature of Marilyn Monroe that means she still fascinates today, so it seems fitting that nobody can really get a hold of her. Now although it is risky for Williams to play this role, considering the obvious amount of criticism she is bound to face, she genuinely puts more passion and energy into this role, than the lady herself did in any of her film roles. Lucy (Watson) provides the contrast to Monroe as the buttoned-down wardrobe girl who has the misfortune of dating Clark when he meets Marilyn. It's a bittersweet romantic subplot, but overall this is a wondrous movie that also captures the romance of the British film industry before it started to lose itself so sadly. While you won't learn anything new about Marilyn Monroe, you can revel in the luxurious feel of nostalgia.  

My Week With Marilyn - Trailer