My Week with Marilyn directed by Simon Curtis (The Weinstein Company, BBC Films, and Lipsync Productions, R, 99 minutes)
Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Zoё Wanamaker, Emma Watson, and Julia Ormond.
I Wanted to Be Famous; Now I Want to Take It Back
Have you ever had dreams of fame and fortune? As a kid, did you imagine walks on the red carpet with flashbulbs blinding your entrance? Did you desire constant adoration and the corresponding riches? While such glory seems intoxicating, My Week with Marilyn proposes a dark undercurrent to worldwide fame.
My Week with Marilyn is a slow-burning, character-driven film adapted from a memoir by Colin Clark, on his relationship with Marilyn Monroe during the shooting of a movie.
Marilyn Monroe: A Third Assistant to the Director’s Introduction to the Movie Business
Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is a young, British aristocrat enamored with the movie industry. Utilizing a family connection with Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), Clark becomes third assistant to the director on Olivier’s latest film, The Prince & the Showgirl.
Starring Hollywood’s most famous leading lady, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), Olivier, as lead actor and director, delegates Clark with logistical tasks meant to ensure an easy and successful stay for Monroe.
When filming commences, tension emerges between Olivier and Monroe. Ever the stoic professional, Olivier becomes frustrated when Monroe constantly arrives late and heavily relies on her acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoё Wanamaker). To Laurence, acting only requires the recitation of a line; to Marilyn, acting means becoming a character.
As such, the differences between actors threaten to derail the movie.
Working as a mediator, Colin finds himself befriending the amatory actor and the relationship between Clark and Monroe exhibits the best portions of My Week with Marilyn.
Unearthing the Real Marilyn
Young and inexperienced, Colin encounters the gravitational pull of Marilyn’s star power. Sultry and provocative while simultaneously shy and unassured, Monroe is timid behind closed doors.
Seeking reinforcement, Monroe flirts Colin into a sycophant role.
A complicated character, Monroe drowns in insecurity, yet she awakens in front of adoring crowds. In perhaps the most iconic scene of the film, Monroe transforms from a withered and scared woman to a famous actress in front of Colin’s eyes when a group of fans emerges.
Before she greets her fans, Marilyn whispers to Colin,
“Shall I be her?”
This question brings forth the central tenets of My Week with Marilyn. Monroe’s sultry on-screen persona must invade her personal life. Fans of the actress require performance even when Monroe desires a moment of solitude.
As such, fame and fortune—an endeavor sought by many—becomes a prison and a self-defeating principle when Monroe comes to realize her true self isn’t “good enough” for her myriad of fans.
The Dark Side of Fame
My Week with Marilyn announces a darker side to fame. The dreams of Hollywood are more than glitz, glamour, and luxury. Feelings of insufficiency reside beneath it all. If fans want the character more than the person, how can the true self survive?
In My Week with Marilyn, we see fame devouring an individual. Michelle Williams masterfully depicts this schism; Marliyn Monroe is capable of performing the worldwide sex symbol on one hand, and a vulnerable woman on the other.
If you love good acting and well-crafted character, check out My Week with Marilyn.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
What do you think? Did you desire fame as a child? Has the dark underside of fame given you reason to pity the famous? Or should they just deal with the unending focus of the media? Does the story of Marilyn Monroe interest you? Do you want to watch this film?
Share your thoughts below.