Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Week With Marilyn

This film is based on the book and diaries of Colin Clark. As the opening credits began it struck me that this would be a story about how someone's life crossed paths with Marilyn Monroe, not a Marilyn Monroe biopic. Seems obvious but I think it is what made the movie interesting. Movies based on real life events and public figures that have solid source material are often my favorite. I have continued to enjoy that as a basis for last year's the King's Speech a descendant of the speech therapist provided his notes from the time he worked with the king to the filmmakers.
Newcomer Eddie Redmayne gives a strong and likable performance as Colin Clark. In his first job on a movie set, Colin is the third assistant to the director on the The Prince and the Showgirl, the movie Marilyn Monroe is coming to England to film with first time director Laurence Olivier. Michelle Williams did a fantastic job as Marilyn Monroe. She even sings in a couple of scenes and does so excellently. Her performance is above and beyond a mere impression and seemed very relaxed as she embodied one of the most iconic figures there is. While Colin is certainly the main character and the movie is told from his perspective, the film's success certainly hinges on a believable Marilyn. In a lesser actor's hands even with the best hair and makeup, the movie simply would not have worked.

Initially it was mildly distracting to me that Kenneth Branagh does not remotely resemble Laurence Olivier. I do not know much about Olivier so I can not comment on how accurately his portrayal was. He was interesting as a character in the film. The supporting cast was very strong. I do not care much for Dame Judi Dench but as Dame Sybil Thorndike I absolutely did. It was one of her infamously brief roles in an Oscar bait movie, usually the main thing I dislike about her. Her character was so delightfully sweet, that she won me over. Julia Ormond was charming as Olivier's wife, Vivien Leigh. I was surprised by the casting of Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, but he pulled it off. Kudos to Emma Watson for scoring such a good first gig after Harry Potter.

My Week With Marilyn was a good movie but the Oscar attention it receives will be based on the strong acting performances, mainly and quite possibly only Michelle Williams. It was well paced and well written. And at only 99 minutes it was short compared to some of the lengthier award season movies.

Next up, The Iron Lady.

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