88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Williams' Empathetic Take on Marilyn Trumps the Evocative Film's More Superficial Elements
The real Marilyn Monroe was an inch and a half taller than Michelle Williams, a significant difference when one considers that there is no way Williams could have replicated the voluptuous physicality of Monroe's presence. Yet, the young actress does something quite unexpected in capturing the essence of Monroe's wounded psyche for all its frailties and doing a convincing...
Published on November 24, 2011 by Ed Uyeshima
34 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'A' for effort, but decidedly lackluster
First off, I tip my hat to Michelle Williams. She gave a valiant effort in trying to pull off an icon, but she only got it 50% right. What she DID nail was Marilyn's emotions: vulnerablility, insecurity, brokeness, and need to be loved. She painted a beautiful picture of wounded woman. Where she missed the mark big-time was in not nailing the charisma, sex appeal,...
Published on March 30, 2012 by Deanna in Cali
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88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Williams' Empathetic Take on Marilyn Trumps the Evocative Film's More Superficial Elements,
The real Marilyn Monroe was an inch and a half taller than Michelle Williams, a significant difference when one considers that there is no way Williams could have replicated the voluptuous physicality of Monroe's presence. Yet, the young actress does something quite unexpected in capturing the essence of Monroe's wounded psyche for all its frailties and doing a convincing job of conveying the public Marilyn for all her breathy sensuality in this modest 2011 showbiz tale. Directed by British TV veteran Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges, the film depicts a minor piece of motion picture lore based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, who was a lowly "third assistant director" during the production of the Ruritanian romance, The Prince and the Showgirl. The mostly forgotten 1957 movie marked Monroe's attempt at being taken seriously as an actress in a well-publicized collaboration with Sir Laurence Olivier just after she married playwright Arthur Miller.
The story really begins with Monroe's arrival in London to start filming. Fully devoted to Lee Strasberg's school of Method acting, she constantly searches for her character's motivation even within the context of a soufflé-light drawing room comedy. With sychophantic acting coach Paula Strasberg constantly by her side, she is chronically tardy on the set keeping her distinguished British company of thespians waiting for hours. Monroe's already renowned insecurities become heightened by Olivier's abrasive impatience as not only her co-star but her director. As a witness to her undeniable aura, the young Colin becomes smitten as he is assigned to be her protector when she begins to bond with him after Miller returns to New York. This leads to a getaway visiting Windsor Castle and Eton College before a comparatively more confident Monroe returns to the set. The film is bookended by Williams' fearlessly entertaining takes on the Monroe classics, Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave" and Harold Arlen's "That Old Black Magic" (although completely out of their original context).
Williams tackles the impossible with her empathetic performance as Monroe, and she manages it with aplomb without resorting to outright impersonation. One deliberate exception is the enchanting little dance she does as her character in the movie within the movie - she mimics Monroe perfectly in those few moments. Eddie Redmayne plays the callow Colin to the best of the screenplay's workmanlike limitations since the only hint of complexity is breaking the heart of the young costumer played in a fetching manner by an underused Emma Watson. As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh captures the ego-driven bluster and measured speech cadence of the legendary actor, but he is also underserved by Hodges' script. Judi Dench again steals her scenes as a fellow scene-stealer, Dame Sybil Thorndike. Barely making a ripple in the story are Julia Ormond as Olivier's then-wife, Vivien Leigh, with just a hint given of her descent into madness, and Dougray Scott as a taciturn Miller. For all its flaws, the film is worth seeing for Williams' mesmerizing work, for example, the scene where she romps through the English countryside conveying Monroe's sense of freedom in a way that recalls a similarly poignant scene in The Misfits.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done!,
An aspiring young filmmaker spent a short time in 1956 on the set of a Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe film as an assistant director. He became close to Marilyn as many men had, and ended up a key figure in the production. Marilyn Monroe was notoriously difficult to work with in Hollywood and that is well-dramatized here. Michelle Williams IS Marilyn Monroe in this one and her performance highlights a realistic look at the difficulties that Marilyn had with trying to be a serious Hollywood actress while dealing with her insecurities and a prescription drug habit. This film was a pleasant surprise and another terrific movie to see during the holiday season.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams IS Monroe! Film gets five stars though an important "bonus feature" would have added to package,
This review is from: My Week with Marilyn [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I'm old enough to remember seeing most of Marilyn Monroe's films on the big screen when they were released. And I'm sure I had her pinup somewhere in my room. I'm sorry she never finished her last film "Something's Gotta Give" but, as I was watching Michelle Williams in the new film, I felt I was seeing a "New" Marilyn film. Williams was perfect casting. And I had never seen her before. I missed "Blue Valentine". She really channels Monroe and is both sexy and introspective.
As you have probably read - I won't go over the plot again, as others have surely done that here - the film is based on Colin Clark's journal about the week he spent on the set of the film that eventually became "The Prince and The Showgirl". I can't think of a male over age 18 that won't think - while watching this film - "Wow! If only I was in Clark's position!" And I'm sure many will dream of that! Honestly, I can't say how this plays out from the point of the female viewer.
No this is not an "epic" film but rather the kind of small "Quality" films that the Weinstein Company finds and releases. (Just look at "The Artist", "The Descendants" and "The Iron Lady"; all with superb casting and lots of Oscar noms.). And for that I can recommend it highly. It's not long - at just 99 minutes.
Both the DVD and the Blu-ray have the same bonus features. These include a full length commentary by Director Simon Curtis as well as a 19-minute " The Untold Story of An American Icon", which is the now-typical "making of" featurette which mixes comments from the cast and production crew with scenes from the film. There a few actually newsreels clips of Monroe included, but not enough to mention. And there is nothing included putting this "week of filming in England" into perspective with the rest of Monroe's career or the culture of the times. A short documentary on Monroe would have added greatly to the experience for viewers who were not alive during Monroe's life.
My five-stars are based on the film itself, as I want to encourage others to see it. But if I had to rare the package as a whole it would be 4 stars.
I hope you found this information both helpful and informative
34 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'A' for effort, but decidedly lackluster,
First off, I tip my hat to Michelle Williams. She gave a valiant effort in trying to pull off an icon, but she only got it 50% right. What she DID nail was Marilyn's emotions: vulnerablility, insecurity, brokeness, and need to be loved. She painted a beautiful picture of wounded woman. Where she missed the mark big-time was in not nailing the charisma, sex appeal, bombshell MOVIE STAR quality that men were captivated by and women wanted to attain. Sorry, but Ms. Wiliams, as good of an actress as she is, simply lacks the glamour, punch and va-va-voom flair of an old Hollywood starlet. This was like casting Anne Hathaway to play Elizabeth Taylor - just wouldn't work. When playing someone famous, simply being a good actor won't do - you have to have at least *some* of the essence of the person being emulated. Marilyn was lost in her internal drama a lot of the time, but she knew how turn it on and sell the showgirl image for the cameras. Williams seemed to just be growing through the motions and looked painfully uncomfortable in any scene where Marilyn had to be "on". You get the sense that she's a painfully shy/quiet person and couldn't turn up the personality enough notches to be believable as a 50's movie star. This is where finding an actress who had a background in musical theater would have made a world of difference. [No one knows how to "sell it" better than a Broadway actress!].
The poor casting continued with Julia Ormond [laughably] as Vivien Leigh. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING about Ormond's looks and performance remotely resembled the icon america came to know and love as Scarlett O'Hara.
The only saving grace acting-wise is Kenneth Branaugh who nailed Sir Lawrence Oliver down to the very last crisply-accentuated syllable. Well done! Dougray Scott was pretty good as Arthur Miller, but [sadly] was not in many scenes.
Performances aside, the movie was slow, predictable, dull and felt inauthentic.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams is wonderful but so is the English cast.,
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"My Week with Marilyn" is great entertainment. Michelle Williams is excellent as Monroe but for me one of the best things about the movie was the who's who roster of English actors, Brannagh as Olivier, Judi Dench is also present, as it Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh (I believe she's French but she's appeared in many English productions and some American ones). Michael Kitchen who is best known for the series "Foyle's War" is wonderful as is Zoe Wanamaker one of my all time favorite character actors, you'll recognize her from many, many BBC productions, in "Marilyn" she plays Paula Strasberg, Marilyn's acting coach and unofficial therapist. Emma Watson who gained fame playing Hermione in the "Harry Potter" films also appears as Colin's would be girlfriend. Eddie Redmayne is Colin Clark the young man who's diary the film was based on. Redmayne is a face I didn't recognize but he's the epitome of a wide eyed, enthusiastic, fresh faced young man, the perfect foil for Marilyn's antics. There was one scene when they return to Colin's alma mater, Eton, and as the two of them descend a staircase into a crowd of assorted Etonian students, teachers, cooks, and janitors, Marilyn turns to Colin and whispers in her vapory voice, "Shall I be her?" With that she sways her hips, purses her lips and poses seductively for her audience. Michelle Williams transforms herself into Marilyn. She captures Marilyn's vulnerability, her mood changes, her drug and alcohol use as well as her dream of being recognized as a great actress. There was a scene from the film they're supposedly filming "The Prince and the Showgirl" where Marilyn is all by herself in a scene, she's humming and prancing around, both the dance and the song performed sotto voce, that was magic. Michelle Williams disappears almost completely in these scenes, her personality is wiped clean and all you see is Monroe. This is a film well worth your time.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 years later, Marilyn lives and breathes again...,
This review is from: My Week with Marilyn [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
First off, I'm a movie lover, but not really much of a critic. My critiques of films rely almost solely upon how entertained I was. I believe I have an eye for what is good on-screen, although I can't really pick things apart to discern if a thing was off, such as the direction. That being said, I could not have been more captivated watching Michelle Williams portrayal of the different facets of the iconic Marilyn Monroe. It's not really that she looks like her--I don't really think that she does--but more that she embodies the role with such grace and nuance as to shed light on Marilyn's evolving personalities so unselfconsciously that one suspends disbelief while watching her play the seductive temptress, the insecure woman-child, and the lonely and lost soul who's reaching out for anyone or anything that might save her. She does all this with humor, candor, honesty, and most importantly, immense compassion and empathy for her subject. Michelle's performance made me look again at Marilyn, an endeavor I started with the stunning release last year of the collection of her writings, "Fragments".
The supporting cast here is amazing. Kenneth Branagh as Olivier is a revelation. Again, I could not have imagined him in that role, but he is absolute perfection as Olivier. Judi Dench brings her usual emotional weight and sweetness to her portrayal of Dame Sybil Thorndike, and Eddie Redmayne is pitch perfect as the besotted Colin, who wrote the book detailing his time with MM.
I cannot say enough good about this movie. For people fascinated with movies, Marilyn, or just the trappings of the human heart, this movie is a wonder. Michelle Williams is the main reason. I found that, as with Monroe, one's eyes stay glued to her in every frame in which she appears--in fact, I actually missed her when she was not on the screen. She gives a star-making performance that may well garner her the Oscar, in my estimation. It will certainly be a game changer for her pick of roles...she'll never be seen the same way again after the due she's paid Marilyn in this wonderful treat of a movie.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "First love is such sweet despair',
Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most famous creations of Hollywood for the last century. In many ways she satisfied the needs of Everyman: she came form a abusive and loveless childhood, entered the realm of celluloid because of an incandescent beauty of body and face, she captured the hearts of everyone who flocked to her movies, she became the Queen of the World, and yet she was likely as fragile and insecure little porcelain doll as ever existed. MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is apparently a true story written by Colin Clark based on his diaries `My Week With Marilyn' and `The Prince, the Showgirl and Me' and in Adrian Hodges adaptation for the screen all of the above mentioned qualities of the public and private Marilyn Monroe are condensed in a 90-minute film. On many levels it works despite the rather choppy manner in which it is presented by director Simon Curtis.
1955 and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) is moving form the theater to make a movie in London. Young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a lad form a wealthy family who is obsessed with being in the film business, wants to be involved and he navigates himself a job on the set. When film star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) arrives for the start of shooting, all of London is excited to see the blonde bombshell, while Olivier attempts to struggle to meet her many demands and acting ineptness, and Colin is intrigued by her. Colin's intrigue is met when Marilyn invites him into her inner world where she struggles with her fame, her beauty and her desire to be a great actress. It is this week of extreme fragility in Monroe's life where we discover more about Marilyn's psyche than we ever thought possible.
Populating the making of the film are Olivier's wife Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond), Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) who bolsters Marilyn's ego, Marilyn's current husband playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), Marilyn's acting coach and mentor Paula Strasberg (ZoŽ Wanamaker), Marilyn's contingent of American movie moguls Milton Green (Dominic Cooper) and Arthur Jacobs (Toby Jones) as well as Colin's relative Sir Owen Morshead (Derek Jacobi) and Colin's would-be girlfriend Lucy (Emma Watson) along with a massive group of supporting actors in small roles. Michelle Williams and the makeup and costume department seem less interested in re-creating a Monroe droid, instead allowing Williams to enter the persona of Monroe - a wise decision and Williams accomplishes the impossible task of making us see Marilyn Monroe as a person. The remainder of the cast is quite fine as one would expect with a group of actors of this caliber. One can wonder why the many roles of Americans were cast with British actors, but that is a quibble. Though Williams has a lovely little voice in her many singing moments she does not resemble then inimitable Monroe sound and quirky vibrato - but that is in keeping with creating the spirit of Monroe and not imitating or mimicking the inimitable. Alexandre Desplat once again provides a perfect music score for the film. In the end this is a satisfying if not overwhelming memoir of the one and only Marilyn Monroe. It works, thanks in large part to Michelle Williams. Grady Harp, March 12
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two great performances make this a must-see.,
Simon Curtis' "My Week with Marilyn" tells all in the title. It's the story of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an aristocratic, well-ccnnected young Englishman, and how he had a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) while serving as a production assistant on the film "The Prince and the Showgirl." The film, though very well-made, is pretty much a trifle, except for the astonishing performances of Williams and of Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier.
Seeing production stills before I saw the movie, I didn't know how Williams was going to bring off playing Monroe; with her round, girlish face, she looks nothing like Monroe, and being dressed, made up and coiffed in full Marilyn drag only emphasizes her lack of resemblance. But this turned out to make no difference, for Williams becomes Monroe to the life, capturing her incandescence, her crippling insecurities, her manipulative flirtatiousness. If there is a more consistently impressive young American actress than Michelle Williams, I don't know who it might be.
Like Williams, Branagh bears no physical resemblance whatever to the world-famous actor he's playing, though his resume makes him a natural to play Olivier (even down to his directing and starring in his own versions of "Hamlet" and "Henry V"). Branagh nicely captures Olivier's magnificence of voice and gesture, but even more, he captures something of Olivier's soul. Watch Branagh's close-ups, and particularly his eyes; on several occasions his eyes have that wild, imperious look that Olivier alone had, and no other actor in cinematic history.
I was less impressed with Eddie Redmayne; he was likable, but essentially just Richie Cunningham with a posh accent. The rest of the players, though, are superb. I was particularly gratified to see Judi Dench playing Dame Sybil Thorndike as a fount of thespian and worldly wisdom. Emma Watson, Derek Jacobi, Zoe Wanamaker, Philip Jackson, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper and Julia Ormond also acquit themselves well. "My Week with Marilyn" is well worth seeing as a splendid showing for British Rep, as well as one American interloper.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Negotiating the magic tragic web,
When I went to see this movie in December, inwardly I was lamenting the overall quality of movies in 2011, with a plethora of remakes, reboots and sequels, and I wondered if Hollywood was running out of fresh ideas, while recycling the same formulas. Remakes/reboots in 2011 included Straw Dogs, Footloose, Arthur, The Thing, Conan, Spy Kids, Final Destination 5, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Some of the movies were high quality such as Girl with the dragon tattoo, and Xmen First Class.
Last year Michelle Williams deservedly received her second Academy Award nomination for Blue Valentine, and now she is nominated for the role of Marilyn Monroe. I liked this movie enormously, and was disappointed that it did not get nominated for Best Picture instead of Extremely Loud and Incredibly close, a dubious choice.
Nevertheless politics being what it is if MWWM was nominated it might give the appearance of Weinstein Studios having too much sway with the Academy Awards, as they also released the Artist with 11 nominations, and the appalling Iron Lady whose only redeeming grace is Meryl Streeps nominated performance, and last year had The Kings Speech.
What Michelle Williams and the movie delivers is a very delicately nuanced and multi dimensional portait of Marilyn that we have not seen previously, those shifts in personality, her ability to be vunerable, to charm, to seduce and manipulate, and if you are Larry Olivier the ability to frustrate your ambition to make an incredible movie. In a perhaps ironic twist in view of recent events we see the entourage of people who can't say no or risk punishment or exclusion.
So we have a young wideeyed man who through connections gets his first job in the business working for Olivier, and responsible for keeping things even with Marilyn. If you're like me you wonder if he will be drawn too far into the web of Marilyn, and if the obvious siren attraction of Marilyn will be his doom. They grow close and here is where the movie takes some liberties on the book on which it's based, but the will they won't they aspect will keep you guessing after the final credits roll. The movie captures the period very well.
Although most attention has focused on the performance of Michelle Williams, I loved the performance of Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier. He listened to Oliver on audio to perfect the mannerisms and the lines, and even had the exact same shoes custom made to fit the part.
It seems fitting that someone who has spent a career following in Olivier's footsteps, acting Shakespeare and bringing the plays to the screen, may finally get the Academy Award for walking in his shoes.
It's clear here that he is a superior actor, and perfectly achieves both his theatrical mannerisms and intonations particularly rolling the R's, and all the grand subtleties of the theatrical master. At the end of the movie he delivers a portion of a soliloquy from Prospero in The Tempest. This for me was like a spiritual experience, it was so sublime. Naturally, I hope that he wins although Christopher Plummer appears to the stern competition this year winning several awards in the runup including the Golden Globe.
When I left this movie I felt optimistic and relieved at finally seeing a good movie. Shortly afterwards all the best movies were released in time for an Oscar run including The Descendants, The Artist, Warhorse, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Hugo. So, if you want to be an Oscar contender release your movie in December.
Recently we have seen a trend in the Academy Awards toward real life characters with Marion Cotillard winning for portraying Edith Piaf, Helen Mirren for playing the queen, Colin Firth for playing a king, Christian Bale for playing an addict. Usually the character has some flaw or adversity to cope with, tragedy, a stutter, addiction. This year it's Alzheimers, addiction/neurosis and racial discrimination.
I loved this movie. I think you will enjoy it, and I hope this was helpful.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All People Ever See Is Marilyn Monroe ... As Soon As They Don't See Her, They Run" - Marilyn,
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While observing this solely on the movie's merit, not if it may or may not be factual being based on the personal diaries of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), I definitely enjoyed this story. A glimpse into one week of the iconic status of Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is a provocative notion. I found Williams a quick study in the subtleties of her charge and extremely brave to step up to this kind of demand. Williams fleshes out Monroe in a solemnization. She neither fully inhabits nor imitates her as much as she celebrates the Marilyn Monroe everyone could appreciate. I found her quite able to balance Monroe's obvious intelligence along with her shaky naivety at the same time. Of course, Williams could never replicate Marilyn Monroe in a performance, the physicality of the two is widely different among other things, although I saw her bring the nuances and idiosyncrasies of Monroe's personality to life. Her stage presence, sexuality, innocence and vulnerability are all well shown.
Into London of 1955 comes the filming of the anticipated movie "The Prince and the Showgirl". A young, and obviously obsessed with the film business, Colin Clark, is able to get involved with the production, but more so with the object of his desire, Marilyn Monroe. He offers her a certain freedom with his friendship during an immense time of fragility for her; providing laughter, hushed conversations, free-spirited romps, and the ability to escape everything. The film presented in this way shows the almost over-importance of Clark in the making of Olivier's movie concerning his handling of Marilyn Monroe alone. But of course, this is all done from his point of view, his ideas and beliefs.
While the acting is all amazing, a complete stand out for me was Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier. He pulled perfection into his portrayal of the ego driven icon that he was himself. His mannerisms, temperament, perfectionism, and vocal all screamed "Olivier". The renowned stage actor coming into the making of this movie was a huge transition, especially with wanting to cast a 'movie star', Marilyn Monroe, alongside him.
An understated Vivien Leigh - 'Lady Olivier' - (Julia Ormond), shows an ease in her position of his wife and a more vulnerable side with her adoration of her husband. The wonderfully astute Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) lends a firm hand and a necessary leading guidance within her performance. In "The Prince and the Showgirl" she was the softest and caring anchor for Monroe's shaky resolve and awestruck times during the filming. This all happening as Olivier's control was escaping him. She remained soothing and tried to keep a balance between the two actors and the two egos.
"My Week With Marilyn" is just that; according to Colin Clark. His week, from his diaries, and adapted from his book. Done with this leaning it may be hard to swallow its validity without suspending some disbelief. With taking this all into mind, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and have watched it several times.
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My Week with Marilyn [Blu-ray] by Simon Curtis (Blu-ray - 2012)