My Week with Marilyn (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/11/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Engaging, enjoyable and surprisingly moving drama with a decent script and a pair of terrific, potentially Oscar-worthy performances from Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh.

What's it all about?
Directed by Simon Curtis, My Week with Marilyn is based on the memoir by Colin Clark and stars Eddie Redmayne as Colin, a young man from a wealthy family who dreams of breaking into the film business. Through the combination of a family connection and sheer perseverance, he wangles his way onto a job on the 1957 production of The Prince and the Showgirl, directed by Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and co-starring Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).

Marilyn's behaviour and dependence on her ever-present acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker) drive Olivier to distraction, but when he realises that Colin is a calming influence on Marilyn, he instructs him to stick close to her in order to look after her during the shoot. Needless to say, Colin is soon head over heels in love with Marilyn but their growing bond exacerbates tensions on set and scuppers his chances with cute wardrobe girl Lucy (Emma Watson).

The Good
After a shaky start (there's a badly shot opening musical number where she looks very awkward), Williams is terrific as Marilyn, capturing both her vivacious public persona and her aching private vulnerability; the scenes where she opens up to Redmayne (also good) are surprisingly moving. However, the real joy of the film is Kenneth Branagh, who's utterly brilliant as Olivier, throwing some glorious tantrums and spitting out some wonderfully bitchy lines, such as likening working with Marilyn to “teaching Urdu to a badger.”

The supporting cast are something of a mixed bag: Wanamaker and Judi Dench (as Dame Sybil Thorndike) are excellent and there's strong work from both Watson (moving nicely away from Hermione) and Cooper (as Milton Greene), though Julia Ormond fails to convince as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott is extremely dull as Arthur Miller (though it's possible they deliberately cast a boring actor to play a boring man).

The Great
The production design is extremely impressive throughout and the script does a nice job of balancing Colin's possibly rose-tinted story with an engaging behind-the-scenes drama. As a result, there are some beautifully written moments, particularly when Olivier realises how wonderful Marilyn can be on camera when she gets it right.

Worth seeing?
My Week with Marilyn is a handsomely made, entertaining drama that could easily pick up some awards attention come Oscar time, thanks to terrific performances from Williams and Branagh. Recommended.

Film Trailer

My Week with Marilyn (15)
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 00:55

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