Title: My Week with Marilyn
Director: Richard Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Brannagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson
Release Date: Out now
With shows like Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire being the hits they are, it seems that audiences are eager for more period drama. With its cast, budget and director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral), My Week With Marilyn was shaping up to be an Oscar juggernaut, considering the success of The King’s Speech last year. And while it may still perform well during award season, it’s unlikely to garner the praise Tom Hooper’s King’s Speech did. The cast is solid, the sets are stunning but the script lacks the catalyst it desperately needs to transcend from fluffy to poignant.
The film may not be the masterpiece it wanted to be, but it does get an awful lot right. My Week With Marilyn oozes periodic authenticity and style. A few scenes with Marilyn and her adorers have black and white stills interspersed throughout, capturing the iconic movements and poses of the woman in white. Of course, the setting is only half the battle when it comes to immersion. Equal weight lies with the cast to portray the cinema powerhouses like Laurence Olivier, Sybil and of course, Monroe herself. On this front, the cast excels.
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) takes on the role of Monroe and she is stunning. She conveys a sense of child-like innocence and naiveté that sheds new light on the star. Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet) is brilliant as Olivier, showing a cynical actor who resents this new wave of “method acting” infecting his beloved profession. Indeed, for the first half of the film, the plot is based around a dysfunctional partnership between these two, both trying to reverse their public persona (from great actor to movie star and vice versa).
Sandwiched between Olivier and Monroe is Colin Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne (The Other Boleyn Girl). He plays the somewhat clichéd character of the underachiever in a well-to-do family who just wants to follow his dream. However, once you get past the well-worn archetype, Redmayne nails the hapless puppy in the throes of Monroe’s mercurial personality. Other characters, such as the costume girl (Emma Watson) and Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) seem to get lost in the film, tangled up in one of the subplots that never really go anywhere.
The script often feels as if it is pandering to its viewers, and while the cast do what they can, the stellar monologues are overshadowed by stale dialogue that’s been doing the rounds in romance films for much too long.
In a Nutshell: Top notch performances are ham-strung by a mediocre script and lack of directorial flair, preventing this film from being the flawless movie its cast tried to make it.