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Movie Review: My Week with Marilyn

December 2, 2011

My Week with Marilyn – An Alliance Films’ Release

Release Date: November 25th

Rated 14A for coarse language, drug content and some sexual content

Running time: 99 minutes

Simon Curtis (dir.)

Adrian Hodges (screenplay)

Based on the books by Colin Clark

Conrad Pope (music)

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark

Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh

Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier

Pip Torrens as Sir Kenneth Clark

Emma Watson as Lucy

Geraldine Somerville as Lady Jane Clark

Michael Kitchen as Hugh Perceval

Karl Moffatt as Jack Cardiff

Toby Jones as Arthur Jacobs

Our reviews below:


My Week with Marilyn Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The most important line of dialogue in Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn comes when Marilyn Monroe (played brilliantly by Michelle Williams) asks before facing a crowd, “shall I be her?”  She immediately transforms into a sexy seductress, playing up her image for the expectant audience.  This is a portrait of Monroe as both the icon and movie star that she was in the 1950’s, but also as a vulnerable woman still trying to navigate the line between her personal life and the very nature of being a celebrity.

The year is 1956 and 23-year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) takes solace in the world of the movies, before being hired by Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) as the third assistant director on The Prince and the Showgirl.  The light comedy is being filmed at London’s Pinewood Studios and stars American icon Marilyn Monroe.  The vulnerable Monroe immediately trusts Colin and begins to open up in his company, but things can only go on for so long before he has his heart broken by one of the biggest icons of his generation.  Perhaps within easier reach for him is the attractive wardrobe girl whom he also fancies, Lucy (the lovely Emma Watson).

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Michelle Williams is brilliant here.  Perhaps because she wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Marilyn Monroe, she is able to portray her with a rarely seen vulnerability and humanity.  This really is a portrait of her as a person rather than just as the icon that many would remember.  Kenneth Branagh is also excellent as Sir Laurence Olivier, losing his temper and dropping swear words with the same poetic timing as when he quotes Shakespeare.  Eddie Redmayne brings a sort innocence to Colin Clark that allows us to sense his coming of age throughout the movie.

With a good script made up of some truly memorable lines of dialogue and excellent performances from all involved, My Week with Marilyn is an entertaining and always believable look at Monroe as both an icon and a person.  A big part of this is due to Michelle Williams, who is just excellent in the leading role.


My Week with Marilyn Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the first hand account written by Colin Clark in 1995, My Week with Marilyn tells the story of how Clark came to know the real Marilyn Monroe for a week working as a 3rd assistant director in 1956 on the film The Prince and the Showgirl.  At the beginning of this film, Clark (played here by Eddie Redmayne), longs to enter the film world, and leaves home at the age of 23 to try to get a job.  When he lands a crew part, he finds himself suddenly working for/with the likes of Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench), and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).

While the script and production are very good, what really carries My Week with Marilyn is the casting/acting.  Everyone here plays their parts to a tee, with the strong (largely British) cast.  Michelle Williams is brilliant as Marilyn Monroe – the similarity between scenes here during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl compared to the actual thing (trailer here) is impeccable, but where Williams really shines is in showing the other side of Monroe – the vulnerable side to her that was hidden from the cameras.  As Clark comes to discover in the film, the character of Marilyn Monroe and the person were very different indeed.

For those interested in the history of film and in particular Marilyn Monroe, this is a film that will be one to seek out.  Feeling in some ways like an older film, it is quiet, although not boring, coming in at a reasonable 99 minutes.


My Week with Marilyn Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Based on a true story, My Week with Marilyn tells a tale of one man’s love for the iconic Marilyn Monroe (played by Michelle Williams).  It is 1956 and she is filming in London, England, with the ever demanding Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh).  A young assistant director, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) finds Marilyn Monroe to be as fascinating as she is beautiful.  Despite the fact that she is married, Monroe starts to fall in love with the kindly Colin.  She feels confidant around him, which improves her acting greatly.

My Week with Marilyn is a pleasant film to watch.  Michelle Williams, while not looking exactly like Marilyn Monroe, plays her quite convincingly.  One really gets the sense of Monroe’s fragile mental health and drug addiction that eventually killed her.  But there is also a sense of innocence and a nostalgia for a simpler time that My Week with Marilyn captures.  This is a nice movie that fans of classic cinema will enjoy.


My Week with Marilyn Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Half a century after her death the life of iconic sex symbol Marilyn Monroe is still a fascinating subject with lots of facts mixed with speculative fiction.  My Week with Marilyn is based on the diaries of the late Colin Clark who acted as the third assistant director on the set of the 1956 film The Prince and the Showgirl.  Clark’s primary role was to ensure that every detail was taken care of to keep Monroe happy and functioning on set.

In My Week with Marilyn, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is a fresh-faced 23-year-old whose enthusiasm for the film industry makes up for his lack of experience on the job.  When Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is cast against Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) on a light comedy she needs a lot of support to make it on set and get through scenes without numerous takes.  Monroe is surrounded and supported by her husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), her acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker) and business agent Milton (Dominic Cooper).  However it’s young Colin Clark whom she takes a shine to and trusts the most.

Narrated by Colin Clark, this story is clearly his take on the events on set.  The story is sweet and funny at times, touching and sad at others just like Marilyn herself.  It’s Michelle Williams’ performance that makes this film good.  A good makeup artist and stylist can get the look right but it takes a great actress to pull off the right mix of sexy, sweet, vulnerable and troubled.  Williams is believable as Marilyn Monroe.

My Week with Marilyn is engaging and entertaining, offering viewers another piece of the Monroe puzzle.  Backed up by a nice theme by Alexandre Desplat and score by Conrad Pope, as well as some decent singing by Michelle Williams, this is a film worth seeing.  Marilyn Monroe fans will be pleased with the film’s portrayal of their icon.


My Week with Marilyn Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

My Week With Marilyn, based on the memoirs of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), covers the time spent in 1956 by 30-year-old Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) on The Prince and the Showgirl, her only film outside the U.S. Striking out on his own at 23 in the film industry, the well-born Colin signed on as third assistant director. Though he fancied Lucy (Emma Watson) in wardrobe, the seductive but vulnerable Marilyn soon took Colin into her confidence as a personal support while her husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) was back home in America. Though Marilyn got warm support from fellow cast member Sybil Thorndyke (Judi Dench), the film’s director and co-star Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) was annoyed by Monroe’s lack of discipline and dependence on her Actors Studio coach Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker), but he ultimately had to admire her brilliance up on the screen.

In an amazing performance, Michelle Williams is totally convincing as Marilyn Monroe. Branagh is delightful as the pompous Olivier, and the distinguished British supporting cast also includes Julia Ormond as Olivier’s wife Vivien Leigh, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, and many others. The script is always interesting, director Simon Curtis beautifully recreating scenes from The Prince and the Showgirl and the film industry of the period in general.


Consensus: With an excellent performance by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe that is both attractive and vulnerable, My Week with Marilyn is an engaging and entertaining period piece that shows Monroe as both an icon and a person.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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