Feb 172012


In this “slice of life” film we are granted a brief look at the life of the world’s biggest star of the time – Marilyn Monroe. That view is given to us by way of the memoirs of Colin Clark, a young and slightly doe-eyed man, who is working on his first ever film set. Check out the review after jump.

Michelle Williams stars as a rather messed up Ms Monroe, in a rather tumultuous time in her life. The year is 1956 and she has recently married [her third husband] playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), and already things are rocky between them. She is the hottest ticket in the world of entertainment, and yet it takes much hand-holding and drugs to even get her out of bed.

We view Marilyn through the eyes of a young man Colin (Eddie Redmayne), who by virtue of determination and his family contacts, has managed to garnish a small job with Sir Lawrence Olivier’s film company. The film is The Prince And The Showgirl which is directed by and stars Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) as the male-lead, and Marilyn as the female-lead. Colin is a rather naïve young man who quickly falls deeply in love (or lust really) with the famous beauty. Marilyn decides she likes Colin, and for a short time he becomes part of her world.


The Marilyn in this film is quite frankly a mess. She is moody, lacking confidence, never on time – basically she lives in her own [drugged up] world. She is a nightmare to work with on the set, and some of the funniest interactions are between her and a completely frustrated Olivier. Colin becomes much like a security blanket for her, and he is more than happy to indulge her.

The film makes a point of showing that there is an on-stage Marilyn and a the real, quite broken Marilyn. In one scene when Marilyn is at Windsor Castle, she turns to Colin and says “Should I be her?” – She then turns to the gathered staff, acts surprised – and as quick as you can blink, turns on the full-force Marilyn charm. While the film hints at the reason for her sadness, it never goes into any real detail.

Michelle Williams is a good, but not amazing Marilyn. While she has the look, she doesn’t quite have the same magnetism and sex appeal as the real deal. Kenneth Branagh is surprisingly the stand-out performer in this film. He manages to add a great deal of life and depth to Olivier, and his comedic timing is absolutely spot on. Judi Dench also delights, playing the well-respected Dame Sybil Thorndike.


The film is beautifully shot and well put together. It’s quite an enjoyable film to watch as it is rather a quiet film, in which lovely scenes in the pretty British countryside are dispersed. Unfortunately the film lags a bit in the third quarter; and you might find yourself wishing that the story was focusing less on Colin’s infatuation, and more on the reasons behind Marilyn’s behavior.

Overall My Week With Marilyn is a very enjoyable film that offers an interesting glance at the troubled life of the famous beauty. Go in expecting a Marilyn bio-pic and you will be disappointed – but if you’re after some well-made light entertainment, then you can’t go wrong with this film.


The Facts

Director: Simon Curtis
Writer(s): Adrian Hodges, Colin Clark (books)
Starring: Michelle Williams, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne
Runtime: 99 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: February 16th 2012; New Zealand: March 8th 2012

  2 Responses to “My Week With Marilyn”

  1. Great review, really enjoyed reading it

    I really enjoyed the film and thought that Michelle Williams did a great job as Marilyn. Some of her strongest scenes were the solo dance sequence, the spontaneous “Do you want me to be her”, and the introduction to Dame Sybil.

    However I thought that in most of the scenes between Williams, Dench, and Branagh, it was Williams who came up short. She was outclassed by acting royalty and it showed.

    I didn’t know that it was Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, talk about unrecognisable! Great performance though.

    One of my biggest complaints was that the movie almost looked like a TV movie. I am not sure why, perhaps the lens or filter used….

    I thought it was an entertaining film but I don’t really need to watch it again.

    • I understand what you mean about it looking like a TV movie – but I kind of liked that. It was very soft and quiet.
      Williams was good but she didn’t have the presence as Marilyn to outshine the “acting royalty” as you say. It was a fluff piece but one I utterly enjoyed at the time.