Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn; drama, UK, 2011; D: Simon Curtis, S: Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench, Emma Watson

Even though his parents think he is wasting his time with films and should instead find a real job, the 23-year old Colin Clark leaves his suburban home to go to London and somehow make it into film business. In '56, he gets a job as an assistant for the new film directed by Laurence Olivier, "The Prince and the Showgirl", starring Marilyn Monroe. Olivier and the studio were very excited to have her at first, but that quickly turned into a hassle when Monroe suffered from depression, forgot her lines, always came too late and would refuse to even rehearse without her coach. Olivier became a nervous wreck, but Colin managed to bond with Marilyn and they spent a weekend together as friends. After the film was completed, she left back to the US.

While "The Prince and the Showgirl" was a good film, some rightfully concluded that the turbulent relationship between its director, Laurence Olivier, and his star, Marilyn Monroe, during filming would have made for an even better film. Simon Curtis took over the direction position and brought those times back to life in "My Week with Marilyn", a bitter-sweet essay on the clash of two perspectives of appearance of celebrities - idealism and reality - told from the point-of-view of Colin Clark, who was an assistant during the making of the "The Prince..." and witnessed the events. While Clark's account is romantic and melancholic, especially during the week he spent with Marilyn - because he acted as her friend, not as her fan, and was thus true to himself, which she needed - he does not shy away from showing Marilyn's bizarre and confusing states of mind: one moment, she swims with him naked in a lake; the next one she shows him the cold shoulder, as if she does not know him anymore.

Monroe was more fascinating as a person than as a star, since, as the movie implies, only wanted love, but realized that maybe being a famous movie star was the wrong way to get it. As she says at one point in the film: "People want to be with Marilyn Monroe. And when they realize I am not her, they run away." This comes inside one of the most beautiful sequences of the film, when Colin climbs inside her bedroom after she locked herself inside and caused the people to worry since she did not reply. Even she needed a break from all the hype around her, and just a normal person to talk to. Michelle Williams delivered a great performance as the title heroine, and was, through some sweet irony, nominated for the same award as Monroe in "The Prince..." in '57, for a BAFTA as best actress. In such times of mass fake, action spectacles without a normal, decent story, "My Week..." seems even more refreshing: it is a simple, wonderful little story. And that's all it needs to be. And a giant love song to Marilyn and her sad side.


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