My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Directed by Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson
This 2011 film is the work of Simon Curtis, a director that I had not known anything about prior to the release of this film. The cast includes some big names, including Michelle Williams (Shutter Island), Eddie Redmayne (The Pillars of the Earth) and Kenneth Branagh (Henry V). The list of stars also includes Judi Dench (J. Edgar) and Emma Watson (The Harry Potter Films).
Colin Clark (Redmayne) just got his first job in the film industry, as an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh). Despite his entry-level position, Colin soon finds himself between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Williams), two stars who continue to clash while filming The Prince and the Showgirl. As Monroe continues to struggle she uses Colin as a youthful escape from the pressure she faces as a public figure.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to admit that I wasn’t excited about this movie. If it hadn’t been for an all-star cast and Netflix, I might not have taken the time to see it. Now I’m just sad that it took so long for me to see this film. From every aspect this movie is successful. The cast, sets, and dialogue all come together nicely in a film that took some major risks.
Michelle Williams gave a gutsy performance as the manic and insecure genius we remember as Marilyn Monroe. There is always some risk when an actor takes on a role portraying someone that’s adored by the public. I would put this in the category of playing Elvis or James Dean. Williams did a wonderful job with the role and her performance is reason enough to watch this film. Then you add in a really wonderful performance by Eddie Redmayne. He did a great job as the infatuated young assistant. His role seemed very simple on the surface, but he gave the story depth with his work. Together their chemistry on the screen is wonderful.
The movie also brings in other great talents. Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh are big stars who played big stars in the film. As with Williams, this placed some pressure on these two to make good with their parts in the movie. They were also successful, bringing an era to life that doesn’t exist in film making anymore. One other interesting note was the work of Emma Watson in the movie. It was a good performance by her and it should help to broaden her fan base past those who loved the Harry Potter films. Along with the rest of the cast, this movie was full of successful work by a lot of talented actors.
The camera work and set design were also great in this movie. I felt like this movie did a wonderful job bringing the time to life.
I think that this could have been a bigger winner at the Oscars had it not been up against so many wonderful films. This movie is part love story and part drama, and it’s based around a Hollywood legend. If you’re a fan of Marilyn Monroe this is a must-see film. This is also a movie for fans of biographical films and dramas. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.