Simon Curtis's My Week With Marilyn
(2011) starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh is a failed exercise based on the memoir of the third assistant director on the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl.
It is a shame that the historical legacy of this film's characters burden rather than inspire the creative team. The actors and particularly the writer are as starstruck as the poor assistant director. The screenplay is only capable of tying the end of one cliche to the beginning of the next. Why is it that British films based on history (this was also the case with Iron Lady
) are obliged to tell their stories via a parade of montages? Isn't anyone capable of writing a scenes that lasts more than 30 seconds? The point of telling this story, it would seem to me, is revealing the distance between the image of the star of legend and the person we now know they were. This superficial approach they took hamstrung even actors of the caliber of Simon Russell Beale and Judy Dench because they didn't have the time to behave as real people. God, what a bore.
I actually liked this film. At least more than I expected. I am not a fan of Monroe so I didn't think I would really give a hoot. I thought Williams did a fantastic job.
Love your observation about the overuse of montage - right on!
What I thought interesting about the film (and you know me and my Marilyn love - I went into it totally skeptical) - was encapsulated in the one moment where Olivier watches her do the little private-moment dance by herself - and her magic onscreen is so palpable that he is almost in despair - for himself. As great as he was, he wanted THAT and he couldn't have it. It was just a tiny moment, though. I wanted more of that.
I was totally skeptical about Williams as MM - but I was very convinced (especially in the press conference scene - MM was legendary for turning hostile questions around to an asset.)
But yes - a tepid film, I couldn't quite understand the brou-haha over it.
Thomas, I agree with you that Williams really caught something about her. It's the filmmaker's storytelling choices that I am critical of. I wanted them to go deeper.
S - That was a good moment, yes. And I'm surprised by just how good Williams was. I bought her too. Keeping the film in a mock-u-mentary realm seemed to me to make them too concerned with hitting superficial marks. There were so many good opportunities for storytelling about the kinds of people they were and, by extension, the kinds of actors, but they seemed to want to have no opinion whatever. As though they were trying to be journalistically or historically "true" to this memoir. It was a missed opportunity, I thought.
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