Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects:
NACinematography: Watch this if you liked:
I went in with high expectations for "My Week With Marilyn" and unfortunately, these expectations were not met. Where did it go wrong? The story of "My Week With Marilyn" takes place in the 50s, where up-and-rising star Marilyn Monroe, finally arrives in England at the request of Sir Laurence Olivier to star with him in "The Prince And The Showgirl". However, Olivier has much more in mind than just sharing a screen with her. He wants to seduce her. Luckily for Marilyn, she has the aid of well-connected 23-year-old Colin Clark, a eager young man with grand dreams of working behind the silver screen. This is a story seen from his perspective, one mostly about his bond with the emotionally fragile screen goddess.
With a story that sounds perfectly sound on paper, you would think that it is the casting that went wrong. And you are not faulted on that, for Eddie Redmayne is definitely a poor choice of a protagonist. One can relate to him on his adoration and worship of Marilyn, for Williams does a marvellous job in bringing her to life, right down to the accent. She managed to nail the various facets of Monroe with great skill; from the needy little girl lost to the intoxicating seductress to the spontaneous actress. If Williams was missed out from the awards for her role in "Blue Valentine", her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe will be the one to bring her attention. Her co-stars, Branagh and Dench are equally marvellous, if not better, as the vain and uptight Olivier and warm Dame Sybil Thorndike respectively. One feels more like Olivier rather than Clark as the movie drags on, desire for Marilyn turning into indignation with the way the narrative plods on and Clark's narcissism in thinking that he could be the one for Marilyn.
And that is just what our protagonist is like, a medium for the fans to experience Marilyn in all her glory, which explains why Redmayne is never expected to do much, nor why Emma Watson is even cast at all as his flitting love interest who only had two scenes at most when drama could be milked for all its worth. That said, one is not exactly sure what scriptwriter Adrian Hodges and director Simon Curtis is aiming for with "My Week With Marilyn". Albeit entertaining at times, it presents otherwise unexplored themes such as Marilyn Monroe's insecure movie star persona who wanted to be a great actress, and Sir Laurence Olivier, who, despite his status as great actor, wanted to be a movie star. But in the end, nothing is accomplished, save the fact that everyone is exasperated by Marilyn's behaviour on set, but mesmerised by her performance in end result of the "The Prince And The Showgirl". It is an amazing feat to be sure, because judging by Curtis's direction; one would think that "The Prince And The Showgirl" would have bombed, considering that "My Week With Marilyn" only showed Marilyn's eccentricities. It does not answer why she is unprofessional at times or whether she could act well or not.
With that said, the cinematography of the film further reinforced the film's status as a montage or tribute to Marilyn. There are scenes after scenes of her smiling, laughing and crying with no binding explanation, and it all adds up to nothing much really, save for flashes of feeling and a bit of balloon-bursting keep it engaging. The only things done right are the costumes and soundtrack. The costumes are perfectly fitting for the period piece, and everyone was intricately dressed, without regard for how major or minor their role was, hence, an honourable mention must be given to Jill Taylor, the costume designer. Meanwhile, the soundtrack worked to invoke the romantic feeling of the old, especially during the scenes of Colin and Marilyn's countryside escapade. In addition, the juxtaposition of the opening and closing scenes of Marilyn singing is a flash of genius, as they are the ones where the most is said despite not having any dialogue. The stark contrast of the opening medley of "When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right" and "Heat Wave" with "That Old Black Magic" in the ending showed clearly how most of us perceived Marilyn to be, and how we perceive her by the end of the movie.
In the end, "My Week With Marilyn" is just a fanciful, cinematic account of one man's time spent with Marilyn, but a beautiful illustration of a woman trapped in the confines of others' expectations and her own. It may not be the most thrilling movie of the year, but it is one worth-watching for its potential. We may not have been able to spend one week with Marilyn, but these 98 minutes would more than suffice.Cinema Online, 17 January 2012