MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Judi Dench, Emma
Watson, Julia Ormond
Director: Simon Curtis
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: Featurette, Audio Commentary
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: March 13, 2012
ďPeople always see Marilyn Monroe. When they realize Iím not her, they run.Ē
Who hasnít fantasized about spending a week with a movie star crush? And of those who do, and are male, who hasnít thought about Marilyn Monroe?
For one unlikely man, that dream became a reality. Colin Clark (Redmayne) loved the movies, and was willing to do just about anything to be a part of them. But who could have guessed that an unglamorous job as a third assistant director (think: gopher) would lead him to the most unforgettable week of his life?
His boss: none other than Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh), venerable stage actor turned film director, who dreams of making a movie with the iconic, beautiful and eternally sexy Marilyn Monroe (Williams). It turns out to be more than he bargained for.
While the public Marilyn was bubbly, vivacious and a fantasy of the bedroom, the real woman was insecure and sometimes difficult. She wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, but couldnít seem to handle the most simple things, like a single word in a short line, or even arriving to the set on time.
Thatís how Colin ends up as kind of a companion to her, and as the person who saw the real human being behind the icon. During their week together he helps her focus, despite a personal life in turmoil (her current husband, playwright Arthur Miller, has expressed regrets about the marriage, and she is being fed more and more pills to help her function).
Itís such a warm, sweet encounter youíd be quick to dismiss it as pure fantasy. Yet Colin Clark was real, as was his encounter with Marilyn, which became the subject of a book. Colin Clark is still with us, making documentary films. Marilyn is no more. Her film with Olivier, The Prince and the Showgirl, is hardly one of her most memorable. Yet even the haughty Olivier canít help but light up to the sight of Marilyn on screen. She may have gotten a lot of things wrong, but he comes to the same conclusion we do: when she got it right, few, if any, did it better.
Michelle Williams earned accolades and an Oscar nomination for her work. Nobody will ever be able to capture that untouchable je ne sais quoi that only Marilyn had, but Ms. Williams actually finds the spirit, and that alone is enough to make the illusion convincing. Itís a difficult performance, but she pulls it off without a hitch.
Almost as impressive is Kenneth Branagh as OlivierÖthere are moments when the legendary actor really seems to have come back to life. Branagh walks the fine line between living legend, pompous ass, and human being with precision, humor and pathos.
This is the kind of film that will make you smile all the way through, and touch the part of all of us that hold on to some of our dreams, no matter how unreachable they may seem.
There is a slightly muted quality to the colors and images, which aid to the period look of the film, but donít quite make this one of the more outstanding Blu-ray offerings. There is no interference or compression noticed, and the level of detail is quite nice throughout, so itís still quite a pleasurable viewing experience.
There are not a lot of demands on this audio track, but the spoken words sound clean and clear, and the score, which includes some of the most beautiful piano music Iíve heard in a while.
The extras include a commentary track with Simon Curtis, and a featurette on the making of the film with an eye toward the iconic Marilyn.
My Week With Marilyn is like a sweet, warm fantasy come to life. For Colin Clark, and for us, it gave us a glimpse into the real woman behind the icon. Michelle Williamsí performance is as good as advertised. Recommended.