Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Dominic Cooper, Judi Dench
Running time: 94 minutes approx
Extras: The Untold Story Of An American Icon feature, directors commentary
2011 was a year Hollywood embraced its past. THE ARTIST (2011) and HUGO (2011) looked at the origins of cinema, and MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (2011) shed new light on screen icons Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier.
It’s summer 1956, and Laurence Olivier (Branagh) has just commenced work on THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957). Directing his fourth feature, Olivier has hired Monroe (Williams) in the lead role. Not only this, but he’s also taken on an assistant, Colin (Redmayne). MY WEEK WITH MARILYN follows Colin’s story on-set with Olivier and more pertinently Monroe.
As a viewer whose only exposure to Marilyn Monroe is SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), MY WEEK WITH MARILYN gave me the opportunity to learn about a Hollywood icon still revered 50 years after her death. The Monroe so often shown in vintage clips is an extrovert, always ready to put on a performance when needed. But here she is shown in a different light – there is some posturing and posing – and more focus is put on her troubles with drugs, broken marriages, and confidence, all of which is portrayed superbly by Michelle Williams. Laurence Olivier, meanwhile, is shown largely as an egotistical, demanding, tantrum-prone fool. Fortunately, Branagh is a good enough actor, and we also see Olivier’s caring, sympathetic side, benefitting from having all the best lines in the excellent screenplay.
Based on Colin Clark’s memoir of the same title, the story is remarkable a tale of love and discovery only in place of Bob and Sue from down the road you’ve got a 23 year-old assistant and the world’s biggest movie star. With much to enjoy, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is a charming film with exceptional central performances. Like HUGO and THE ARTIST this is Hollywood with a heart and I for one hope with the Academy’s recognition – Williams was nominated for her performance – these types of film continue to be made.
Extras: An enthusiastic but largely dull commentary and a featurette that, whilst well meaning, is far too short to offer any insight.