My Week with Marilyn

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson
Director: Simon Curtis
Category: IIB

Since Michelle Williams and, to a lesser extent, Kenneth Branagh began scooping nominations and awards for their performances in My Week With Marilyn, the film has been considered to be an acting masterclass, as critics zero in on how accurate the pair's depictions of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier are.

While both actors do deliver remarkable turns here, Simon Curtis' adaptation of filmmaker-writer Colin Clark's memoirs is much more than that, as it's as much a love song dedicated to the world of cinema as it is to one of its most enduring screen icons.

My Week with Marilyn revolves around the budding relationship of the young Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an English assistant director on the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, that develops with Monroe (Williams) as the latter's husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott, above with Williams) leaves the set and heads home to the US.

This is a story about Monroe as the little girl lost, as she struggles with the demands of being a screen siren and an actor.

That she does try to be respected as the latter as she's celebrated as the former is what drives the story and Williams' performance.

Also examined is how Olivier (Branagh) frowns upon and then bullies her for her insistence in having to believe in the authenticity of her character's persona - something that could roughly be described as her take on method acting - drives her into deeper confusion, and subsequently the arms of Clark.

'You're the future that threatens him,' says Clark to Monroe as he attempts to console her after yet another of Olivier's attacks on her work and, indeed, Monroe's way of working the media to a frenzy and her way of handling her public persona of a blonde bombshell could be seen as a precursor of the celebrity culture to follow in decades to come.

But before all that, My Week with Marilyn is made more with an eye on the past. It's one of a long line of recent films that provides fond remembrance of cinematic times gone by, as Curtis lays bare the filmmaking process, without puncturing the aura of it all.

And this, sadly, is My Week's drawback.

However competent the cast are, the film itself is plain, and hardly any of the relationships shown on screen - whether between Clark and Monroe, or the wardrobe assistant (Emma Watson) he goes on a date with - ooze empathy.

Lushly mounted as it is, My Week with Marilyn lacks the spark of a film about the clash between American glamour and British aloofness. Here, the stiff upper lip somehow wins.

My Week with Marilyn opens today