My Week with Marilyn excels in the acting department but the screenplay has much to be desired as I didn’t make much of an emotional connecting by film’s end. Despite my concerns, I still think it’s worth seeing for the performances as well as the costume and production designs.
Anchor Bay | R – 99 min. – $29.99 | March 13, 2012
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Writer(s): Colin Clark (diaries); Adrian Hodges (screenplay)
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Dominic Cooper, Emma Watson, Judi Dench
Theatrical Release Date: December 23, 2011
Features: Commentary, Featurette, DVD Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 21.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
My Week with Marilyn is a biographical account of Colin Clark, a young man who, while working on the film The Prince and the Showgirl, spends quite a bit of time with the damaged blonde bombshell.
The film opens with Colin (EDDIE REDMAYNE) leaving home to work in the movie business despite his parents’ displeasure. Through his tenacity, he gets the job of third assistant director, a job which basically entails of being a gopher and retrieve items and actors (i.e. doing the grunt work). Here he’s assisting director Sir Laurence Olivier (KENNETH BRANAGH) as the legendary actor makes his directorial debut and for the first time working with the hot worldwide sensation, Marilyn Monroe (MICHELLE WILLIAMS). However, what Olivier quickly discovers is that the bombshell is extremely insecure and can’t seem to recite her lines on camera which only fuels her anxiousness… and his anger.
After much frustration on the set, for some reason Colin catches Marilyn’s eye and the two have some kind of spark which, at first, breathes new life into the singer/actress. The pair shares many moments together with Marilyn inviting Colin out to her temporary fallacious estate; skinny dip in a local lake; and generally frolic around with Colin quickly falling deep in love. Despite the warnings of Marilyn’s personal assistant Milton Greene (DOMINIC COOPER) – who himself had a tumultuous relationship with Marilyn –, as well as Olivier, Colin continues his courtship. Everything isn’t exactly sunshine and lollypops as Colin discovers her drug addiction but he only wants to take care of and love her.
First things first: the performances. The headliner is obviously Golden Globe winner and Oscar-nominated Michelle Williams. While I didn’t think her performance as Marilyn Monroe was anything special, she does at least make it believable as to why people fawned over her and, in the case of the story, fall in love. It’s not a terribly nuanced role but at the same time it’s not over-the-top whenever the character was in her drug fueled mode.
The other notable performance is that of the veteran thespian Kenneth Branagh who was also nominated for an Academy Award (and a Golden Globe) for Best Supporting Actor. I actually was a bit more impressed with his turn as Laurence Olivier providing both a gruff exterior when dealing with Marilyn and a softer side as the film carried along.
The supporting cast I suppose do well enough. Eddie Redmayne, as the central character, is good but not really noteworthy in his performance, though he does do a good job presenting a certain innocence and naïveté to the character; Judi Dench once again is in fine form in a relatively limited role (she only has maybe 10-minutes of screen time); and it’s nice to see Emma Watson outside of her Harry Potter Hermione persona in a small role as the girl of Colin’s affections before turning towards Marilyn. It’s not especially remarkable but for the time she has on screen, she at least makes an impact.
However, for all the fine performances My Week with Marilyn offers, by film’s end, I couldn’t care less about any of them. Is it some underlying issue with the acting? I don’t believe so. Instead I think the screenplay, by Adrian Hodges (TV series “Primeval”), doesn’t quite connect the dots with these characters. We see our main character, Colin Clark; change throughout from a naïve young man with no life experiences to somebody stronger whose heart gets broken. That’s all well and good enough, yet we have to be told this. At the very end, before Emma Watson makes her exit, she asks whether Marilyn broke his heart. I don’t know, the scene came across more clunky than genuine. And that’s what this movie’s shortcomings come down to: a lack of genuineness. Instead of feeling some sort of emotion towards Marilyn or Colin, it instead rings hollow.
Directed by Simon Curtis, My Week with Marilyn is another film where the performances outweigh a weak screenplay. It’s not anywhere close to being a bad movie, just one that probably could’ve used a little more work in the script department. Even so, I’d recommend checking it out if not just for the performances from Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh who both deserved their Academy Award nominations.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
Unfortunately the Blu-ray doesn’t have much to offer in the features department…
Feature Commentary – Director Simon Curtis offers up an informative, if not a tad dry, track as he talks about making the movie, working with certain actors and shooting at certain locations. There’s nothing here that’s exactly enticing but for a solo track, it’s not bad.
The Untold Story of an American Icon (19:07; HD) is a mundane/forgettable featurette containing interviews with the cast and crew set against behind-the-scenes footage as they talk about the characters and plotline.
Also included are some previews (W.E., Coriolanus, The Iron Lady and The Descendants) and the retail DVD Copy.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Anchor Bay presents My Week with Marilyn with an impressive looking 1080p high-definition transfer (AVC codec). The movie, presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio, is finely detailed with no discernible flaws such as artifacting, dust and/or scratches while still having a fair amount of natural film grain. The color palette is also quite good being balanced without looking pumped up.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
Although the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack isn’t as impressive, it’s still very good and is fine for this type of movie where the majority is dialogue related with only a few scenes where music or score will define any kind of depth. The main portion of the track utilizes the center channel while ambient noises or side chatter fills the front and rear speakers.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, My Week with Marilyn excels in the acting department but the screenplay has much to be desired as I didn’t make much of an emotional connecting by film’s end. Despite my concerns, I still think it’s worth seeing for the performances as well as the costume and production designs. The Blu-ray meanwhile offers up good video and audio transfers, though the features could’ve been better.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.