YEP YEP – Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate “it” girl. If sex really does sell, then Monroe was the Henry Ford, Ray Kroc, and Steve Jobs of movie mojo magnetism.
My Week with Marilyn is adapted from Colin Clark’s, The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me, a memoir chronicling the young Brit’s experience working as the third assistant to the director on Monroe’s collaboration with the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier.
“He is a great actor who wants to be a great film star,” Colin (Eddie Redmayne) tells Monroe at one point. “You are a great film star who wants to be a great actress. This film won’t help either of you.”
That pretty much sums up the narrative conflict in the film. But the nuts and bolts of this thoughtful and touching bio-pic is what is widely already known about the tragic icon who died way too young. She blew up like an atom bomb in an industry of opportunistic men who tripped over themselves to exploit her neediness for male attention.
Williams is excellent as Marilyn Monroe, capturing not only her sensitivity and insecurity, but bringing to life the playful quality that made her such a star.
The film is mostly about Colin Clark’s brief trist with the star, but the element I found more interesting is how seriously Monroe took her Method acting training, traveling with Lee Strasberg’s sister, Paula (Zoe Wanamaker), to ensure constant technique counsel. All of which drove Olivier nuts. Kenneth Branagh plays Olivier convincingly; both infuriated by her tardiness and Method babble, and enviously captivated by how she comes to life on-screen on a level seemingly out of his reach. Inside baseball stuff, but all handled really well by director Simon Curtis.
My only criticism of the picture is the script’s treatment of legendary photographer and Monroe confidant, Milton Greene, played roughly by the numbers by Dominic Cooper. Greene was not only a trusted ally and friend of Monroe’s, but was the single most significant photographer responsible for some of the most widely recognized and beloved Marilyn images – images that cinematographer Ben Smithard set out to pay homage to in several moments throughout the film. From My Week with Marilyn you would learn next to nothing about Greene, who comes off as a scorned lover and pill pushing sycophant.
Nonetheless, it’s a very sweet and flattering tribute to a larger than life Hollywood icon. What Marilyn Monroe had you can’t teach. What she sacrificed to be loved cost her everything.