Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn tries very hard indeed to make you hate it as quickly as possible. It begins with a plummy voiceover from an upper-class twit, who parks his glaringly obvious period car - it may as well have a hooter that shouts "LOOK AT ME! I'M AN AUTHENTIC 1950s PROP!" - right in the foreground of every shot, while Michelle Williams hovers about looking almost-but-not-quite like Marilyn Monroe, as if trying to prove that the Uncanny Valley theory doesn't just apply to performance capture animation.

But then something weird happens, and suddenly you're completely sucked into director Simon Curtis' world, in which Johnny Posh Features (Eddie Redmayne, playing Colin Clark, upon whose diaries the film is based) is actually quite charming and Michelle Williams is actually and unquestionably Marilyn Monroe. It's a cunning trick by writer Adrian Hodges, whereby he avoids many of the traps that true stories so often fall into by crafting a delightful story that has a beginning, a middle and an end without appearing contrived for the sake of drama.

The film's biggest joy, without which it would quite probably be nothing, is Kenneth Branagh's unexpectedly funny turn as Laurence Olivier, a role he demanded to play the moment he emerged from his mother's vagina. In fact the Monromance bubbling up between Marilyn and Colin soon feels like a subplot we're forced to sit through while we wait for another hilarious scene of Larry losing his shit over Mazza's incompetence as an actress. Seriously, if Ken wanted to make a two-hour spin-off of this film starring only himself as Olivier, I'd watch it in a heartbeat. I've even got a title ready.
Sadly it appears that the awkward-nobody-almost-has-affair-with-massive-movie-star storyline is the one we're supposed to be interested in, and while it's pleasantly diverting it never really grabs you by the genitals (which all love stories should), despite excellent performances all round. You're left wondering why you had to go to the cinema to see a Sunday night ITV drama, what the real-film-within-the-film The Prince And The Showgirl is like (good news! It's on BBC2 on Saturday) and whether or not Marilyn really was as useless as this film makes her out to be.
All in all then, nice enough, but no Me And Orson Welles. I imagine. I haven't actually seen it.

1 comment :

  1. I thought the movie was pure delight. I loved it. Colin Clark (the My of the title) sums up the crux of the the problem Olivier & Monroe had working together when he tells Marilyn "It's agony because he's a great actor who wants to be a film star, and you're a film star who wants to be a great actress. This film won't help either of you."