Written by Adrian Hodges
Directed by Simon Curtis
Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench
Marilyn Monroe: All people see is Marilyn Monroe. As soon as they realize I'm not her, they run away.
In 1956, one of the biggest stars and sex symbols the world has ever known travelled to England to make a movie with one of the world’s most respected stage actors. Somewhere in the middle of the inevitable chaos and drama that ensued, a young man named Colin Clark was embarking on his first job in the movie business. The star was Marilyn Monroe; the actor was Sir Laurence Olivier; and the movie was THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL. Clark’s budding film career never took off but his unique experience would one day become a book (“The Prince, the Showgirl and Me”), which in turn has now become a movie called, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN.
The shoot itself actually went several weeks long but when it comes to spending time with Monroe, the experience is so fleeting that it can feel like an instant that has ended long before it should. There was nothing Clark, portrayed here by fresh faced, Eddie Redmayne, could have done to prepare himself for the magnitude of Monroe’s magnetism. And as the splendid Michelle Williams demonstrates with her finely nuanced performance, there was very little Monroe could do to tame that pull either. Though Clark is just a glorified gopher on set, his innocence and honesty grab Monroe’s attention and before long she latches on to him to use as a shield from the multitude of things that frighten her in general. Her near crippling fear and anxiety in turn threatens the success of the shoot, which causes a serious rift with Sir Laurence, who is played with great exuberance by Kenneth Branagh.
Director, Simon Curtis and writer, Adrian Hodges, both relative unknowns in the world of Hollywood feature filmmaking, infuse MY WEEK WITH MARILYN with a delicate subtlety that allows for simple but sympathetic insight into the mind of the infamous starlet. Bolstered by the almost always brilliant Williams, Monroe comes across here as part frightened little girl, lost in a world she barely understands and part experienced woman, aware of her position and unafraid of abusing her power if it means alleviating her own distress temporarily. She enjoys the attention but also doesn’t know what to do with it when she has it. Most importantly, she is aware that she is more commodity now than person, yet seems more or less content to play along. This might perhaps be because she has no idea how to change the direction of her life or it might be because she no longer remembers who the real Marilyn is anymore.