My Week With Marilyn movie review

Posted on 18 November 2011
By Miv Evans
  • Share:

This is a character driven story but unfortunately none of the characters possess enough depth to drive us anywhere interesting, so our journey becomes a mundane trot with so little happening that if the sequences were swapped around, no one would notice. And Michelle Williams as Marilyn? Not really.

It’s 1956, COLIN (Eddie Redmayne) is an aspiring filmmaker and gets a job as the 3rd Assistant Director on The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who is also the director. It is Marilyn’s first visit to the UK and she brings with her her new husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), and acting coach, Paula Strasburg (Zoe Wanaker).

Marilyn’s psychological problems play havoc with the shooting schedule and Sir Olivier’s nerves, and when Arthur returns unexpectedly to the US, Marilyn turns to Colin for support. The earnest young man is spellbound by the fragile showgirl and all too willing to fall victim to her charms.

Williams manages to capture Marilyn when she’s at her acting best on screen, but the rest of the time, which is 99% of the film, she fails to entrance.

She tries too hard with the soft-soft voice and presents the same persona when she is difficult, unbalanced, tearful, drugged-up, seductive and even when she’s happy. The most, and possibly only, emotionally revealing moment in the entire film is when Marilyn is suddenly confronted with an audience on a day out with Colin.

She smiles mischievously, says to him, “Shall I be me?” , and seems to take off her mask rather than put it on to become the iconic Marilyn.

The story is told mainly from Colin’s point of view, but we meet most of the other characters without him, thus his relationship with them is never clearly drawn.

As a protagonist, he lacks any kind of spark and is a nice enough chap but one-dimensionally dull, so our journey with him remains remote. But even more disappointing is the fact that we don’t see anything we haven’t seen before.

We already know Marilyn was desperately insecure, that she took prescription drugs, that she was unreliable on set, and this lack of anything new brings us to the source of the film; Colin’s memoirs.

In 1996, Colin recounted his experiences of this six-month shoot in a diary-style memoir entitled The Prince, The Showgirl and Me. A decade later, he decided that one week was missing, and published a follow-up titled ‘My Week With Marilyn’. Really?

He spent a week alone with the most famous movie star in the entire world and, when he sold out, left out the juice? And, even more incredibly, during that week, he didn’t discover one tiny quirk that would let us know his story to be actually true? Being a kiss-and-teller is one thing, but being too uninspired to make up a few believable lies makes him an embarrassment to every book-whore who has ever sold their sorry soul.