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My Week with Marilyn (2011)
The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/13/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/8/2012
Typically when I watch a biopic or docudrama, I'm not very familiar with the subjects. I may have heard the story on the news or learned about them in history class, but my knowledge of the individual(s) usually doesn't effect how I feel about the casting. If the movie is about a truly world-renowned person, those feelings can change. When the subject is someone whom I've seen in pictures, news footage, other movies, whatever, the choice of the actor who portrays them can be a big deal. If I can't picture the real-life person in the actor, there can be some issues. Which brings us to My Week with Marilyn.
The year is 1956 and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) is making a movie entitled "The Prince and the Showgirl", in which he will star and direct. He has flown Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) to London, along with her husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), to star alongside him. Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is an upper-crust young man who wants to work in show business. Olivier is a friend of the family, and Colin is able to secure a job as Third Assistant Director on the film. While on-set, Colin observes that Marilyn is never on time and she's always with her acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), and her handler, Milton Green (Dominic West). Colin has a few interactions with Marilyn at the studio and then he begins to see her outside of work, much to the chagrin of Green, and Lucy (Emma Watson), a wardrobe girl who has a crush on Colin. Colin's presence seems to stabilize Marilyn, and Olivier is happy that she can actually focus on the work at hand. But, what can transpire when the world's most famous woman and a young man get together?
My Week with Marilyn is a true story which is based on the book The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me by the late Colin Clark. To illustrate this point, the story is told through Colin's eyes. Rarely is there a shot in which Colin isn't participating, and the movie clearly takes great pains to only show things which Colin would have witnessed with his own eyes. This gives the story a certain amount of bias. There are several moments where Colin is alone with Marilyn and we must trust that Clark told the truth about what we are seeing. Most of it isn't too far-fetched to be believed, but again, this was Marilyn Monroe at the height of her popularity making time for a gofer on a movie set.
This also leads us to look at how the characters are portrayed. Colin is almost a blank-slate and a fairly bland person. He's excited about working on the movie, and clearly develops feelings for Marilyn. Olivier is portrayed as a perfectionist on the movie set, but he's also a diplomat, as he understands that Marilyn must be handled in a special way. He's also shown to be fair, as he's nice to everyone on-set. The movie shows Marilyn as a damaged woman who understands that she's famous, yet has little self-confidence. We've heard this story before, so there must be some truth to it, but showing that Marilyn was little more than a woman-child gets somewhat tiresome.
The next piece of the My Week with Marilyn puzzle is the acting/casting. Michelle Williams has won twelve awards thus far for her performance and many more nominations, but for me, I simply didn't see it. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about Marilyn Monroe and I've only seen a few of her movies, but at no point did I look at the screen and see Marilyn Monroe. All that i saw was Michelle Williams in a wig and a beauty mark. Williams does a good job changing her own voice and her mannerisms, but she bares so little a physical resemblance to Monroe that there's no illusion to shatter. They couldn't have a competent actress who was at least as voluptuous as Monroe? Branagh, on the other hand, definitely deserved his Oscar nod, as he brings a nice dignity and air of sophistication to Olivier. While Colin is sort of dull, Redmayne does a good job showing the boy's wide-eyed enthusiasm.
Now, all of these things are important, but the most important thing to discuss about My Week with Marilyn is the pacing and the tone. Director Simon Curtis, who has spent his entire career in television, makes his feature film debut here, and he's treated the story in a very matter-of-fact manner. We see the characters expressing emotions and talking about feelings, but the whole affair feels very cold and distant. Colin's story is an interesting one, but the movie does very little to draw us in. As it stands, it's more intriguing to read about My Week with Marilyn than to actually watch it. My Week with Marilyn attempts to capture a small story which played out against a larger canvas, but the movie unemotional and boring. This week feels more like years.
My Week with Marilyn made me want to watch Dead Again...again on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is fairly good, but a few shots look a bit soft. The depth is nice as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly quiet movie, but we do get nice stereo and surround effects on the film set which illustrate sounds coming from off-screen. Monroe's arrival at the airport also provides good surround sound.
The My Week with Marilyn Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. We get an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Simon Curtis. "The Untold Story of an American Icon" (19 minutes) is a making-of featurette which contains interviews with the cast and Curtis. The actors discuss their roles and in particular, Williams turn as Monroe. We get a nice amount of on-set footage and the comments are (for something like this) are pretty heartfelt. There is a few seconds of actual newsreel footage of Marilyn, and I wish that we could have seen more of this. We get a feel for the energy on the set (which I wish had made it into the movie). There is also a brief look at the film's music.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long