My Week With Marilyn

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my week withDiamonds are a girls best friend. And so are the third assistants on a movie set.

This is the story of acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier directing his first (and last) movie, The Prince and the Showgirl. It was the mid-50s and Marilyn Monroe was the blond bombshell.

She was popping pills, drinking, showing up late, as well as bringing her third husband and acting coach to the set.

This is all based on a book from the guy who was that third assistant, and ended up having to babysit Monroe, stroke her ego, show her around England, and give her gossip.

The woman I brought with me to see it loved the book, which she told me was nothing like the movie.

I thought the word “week” in the title should’ve been “weak.” This had a weak script, filled with biopic clichés. It had weak directing. The things it had going for it were the strong performances.

Obviously, that starts with former San Diegan Michelle Williams, who I loved so much in Blue Valentine last year. It’s strange to think that her late husband died of an OD before winning his Oscar, and she might win an Oscar playing a woman who OD’d.

She captured the fragility and sexy flirtatiousness of Monroe, but I think it’s a shame that Kenneth Branagh (who really should’ve directed this), will probably be overlooked for his performance as Olivier, which is a shame. It’s just as good, and I think people forget when you play somebody like Ray Charles or Marilyn Monroe – it’s probably a lot easier to do the caricature of them. I often wonder if people think Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (which got him an Oscar) was really that much better an acting performance than Tom Cruise as the selfish brother that slowly changes.

The rest of this extremely talented cast includes Dame Judi Dench, playing Dame Sybill Thorndike. She’s an older actress that realizes it’s probably best to be supportive of Monroe instead of insulting her.

Julia Ormond makes a welcome return to the screen, as the aging Vivien Leigh, who is dating Olivier, but was deemed too old to play the part she did on Broadway. Monroe has the role on screen, and you can imagine her jealousy as she lurks around the set.

Eddie Redmayne played the young Colin Clark, who befriends Monroe. I enjoyed his performance in The Yellow Handkerchief a few years ago. His performance in this was okay, but nothing to write home about.

The woman he originally pursues works as a costume designer. She’s played by Emma Watson (Harry Potter). The problem I had was thinking she was prettier than Monroe. When we saw close-ups of Williams in this, we realize how much prettier Monroe was (the same thing happened when you see the close-ups of Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison).

I hope the studios give us a break from the biopics, but if the Weinstein’s win some Oscars for this I’m guessing there’s really no hope of slowing them down.

This movie is mostly fiction, which makes it less enjoyable. I was still entertained enough by the performances to give it 2 ½ out of 5 stars.

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