Despite my love of classic films, I have never been a fan of Marilyn Monroe. My Week With Marilyn does more to help me understand why I have never been a fan than it does to help me rethink my position (i.e. I just don’t get why people were so enchanted by Monroe). It does, however, begin to make me a fan of Michelle Williams, whose portrayal of the troubled Monroe is so spot-on that she will surely be nominated for an Oscar.
My Week With Marilyn is a quiet British drama that avoids sensationalizing and melodrama and gives us a wonderful glimpse into what it was like to be involved in the making of a film starring Monroe and the great Laurence Olivier (brilliantly played by Kenneth Branagh). Based on a true story by Colin Clark, My Week With Marilyn stars Eddie Redmayne (well-cast) as the 23-year-old Clark who gets to be Monroe’s closest friend during the final days of filming The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956.
Everything about My Week With Marilyn is very well done, with the acting and the dialogue being the highlights. Judi Dench shines in a small but vital supporting role, Emma Watson is perfectly cast in another smaller role and Dougray Scott is surprisingly effective as Monroe’s husband. While some will think the dialogue uninspiring, I was impressed by its intelligence. Some, perhaps most, will also think this film is about Monroe. I am not convinced of this. Monroe’s insecurity and deeper problems are well-known. What makes My Week With Marilyn work for me is that it’s about a young man whose dream comes true when Monroe turns to him for comfort during a difficult time (well, that and the performance by Williams). Watching Clark bounce between Olivier and Monroe is precious.
My Week With Marilyn is not an outstanding film but I think it’s better than most critics think it is, so I am going to let it slide just into the ***+ category. My mug is up.