It’s Oscar season and the award winning biopics are alive and well, but if you’re looking for the end all, tell all film about Miss. Norma Jean then you may want to look elsewhere. As My Week with Marilyn plays out more like a tabloid story than a true account of what it was like to have a peak behind Marylin Monroe’s curtain.
Shown primarily through the eyes of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) an ambitious young man looking to pounce at any chance to work in the movie business. Showing tireless ambition and pulling every family string he has, Clark ends up landing a job as the this Assistant Director on Marylin’s latest film The Prince and the Showgirl. While his on-set affections originally fell upon Lucy (Emma Watson) a young a wardrobe assistant, it doesn’t take long for Marilyn to turn his world upside down. A moment that for her would only last a week would change Clark’s life forever.
Directed by Simon Curtis who is mostly known for his work on the small screen tells the story of Marylin Monroe in a way that shares the ambition of his other work. While the film looks and flows beautifully, if you’re looking for anything more than advertized you won’t find it here. Shown through soft filters the main draw to My Week with Marilyn is held solely in the hands of it’s actors namely Michelle Williams. This in a way suits the film’s subject matter, because when she’s on the screen you don’t want to look at anything else.
Williams portrays Monroe in a way that makes you forget that the two are not one in the same. While most will think her performance is a bit dim witted, one only needs to look into the subtext to realize that Marilyn was always in control. Through subtle looks and flirty winks Williams knows exactly how to melt an audience. While I do believe her role in Blue Valentine was enough to give her that coveted statue, the difference this time around will be the competition. Williams has given another stellar performance, one that has critics raving and this time around the subject matter has that Oscar winning safe tone making the award hers to lose.
In a way My Week with Marilyn reminds me of last year’s awards season giant The King’s Speech, as both films know how to walk that thin line between art and mainstream. While in the end this type of film-making always serves it’s purpose, it’s this yearly awards season safety dance that always loses my attention. There is nothing wrong with it and every year these films just make me feel colder and colder as a critic. In my defense I just want more grit this time of year, something that keeps me up at night thinking about it’s beauty and daring desire to push the envelope.
That’s where films like My Week with Marilyn loses me, while I do enjoy the ride they do nothing to make me want to jump back in line. The story of Marylin and Clark is exactly as you would expect it to be and there is nothing wrong with this tale of young love. The performances are fantastic and any film lover will be immediately intrigued by the insight to the creation process of film-making, especially when it comes to the process of someone so poignant as the film’s central subject. In the end I just can’t look past the film’s cookie cutter approach to a story that could have had a much darker tone. Instead we’re left with a film that feels more like a diary entry than the dramatic love affair you were hoping for.
I give My Week with Marilyn 3 “Tabloid Tales” out of 5
by Ryan Davis