Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Week with Marilyn: My Take on the Movie starring Eddie Redmayne and Michelle Williams


I wrote a paper on Marilyn Monroe way back when I was in Mrs. Rollins' tenth grade English class at dear old Samohi. That must have been in 1969, just 7 years after her death at the age of 36.  I remember checking out books from the tiny Ocean Park branch library on Main Street, as well as periodicals from the Santa Monica Public Library and laboriously writing notes by hand on index cards. No computers. I didn't even have a typewriter back then!
I remember being fascinated with her affairs, with her death, with the theory that the overdose was staged as a coverup for murder.
That was the end of Marilyns' very short life.
My Week with Marilyn takes place about five years earlier, when she was at the height of her fame, during the making The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier. She was newly married to the iconic American writer, Arthur Miller, who joined her on the shoot in England, in lieu of a honeymoon.  Colin Clark, the Third Assistant Director on the film, was smitten with the newly married sex symbol and wrote My Week with Marilyn  reportedly based on his experiences with the actress when Miller left Monroe to visit his children in the states.


I adore Michelle Williams and she definitely has Marilyn's fragility down but she doesn't really channel Monroe. She doesn't really ooze Marilyn's sex appeal. No one does. Still she does a grand job of embodying Monroe's bombshell act - which Michelle Williams plays as a character choice --along with her monumental and conflicting self-doubt. As played in the film, Monroe's self esteem is so incredibly low, her understanding of her talent so tenuous, that she comes off far more irritating than titillating. But she turns on the charm for the young Colin, a mere 25 year old who she turns to for comfort.
Frankly I could do without Eddie Redmayne and his wierdly freckled duckbill lips as Colin Clark. He's a good five years older than Clark and there is such a difference between a young man freshly starting out in his midtwenties and a more settled and mature man of 30. Redmayne doesn't catch that difference. Redmayne's height doesn't help nor does his complete utter total absolute 100% lack of sex appeal. Am I being clear?
I think Kenneth Branagh should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor - he is terrific as the controlling and frustrated Olivier. And wonderful Judi Dench was warm and authentic as always as the acclaimed British actresss, Dame Sybil Thorndyke. Little wonder that she was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. The enabling behavior of Paula Strasberg was perfectly played by Zoe Wanamaker and all in the all the film was well done. I was hoping for spectacular but very very good's not bad!


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