I have been looking forward to seeing My Week With Marilyn ever since I heard about its existence. While it took some time to reach Australian shores, and it’s still playing in theatres here, I decided to order the DVD from Amazon so I could watch it a few times and really soak it all in. Today, I received my copy and I watched it for the first time this afternoon.
I have to say, what struck me was the standout performances by Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams. While I never quite got to the point of forgetting I was watching Michelle play Marilyn, in other words, she never “became” Marilyn for me, she still did a wonderful job of portraying Marilyn Monroe without her performance becoming a cheesy impersonation. Her mannerisms and recreated scenes from The Prince and the Showgirl were perfect. As usual, Judi Dench was fantastic, this time playing Dame Sybil Thorndike. But, Kenneth Branagh was the definite anchor of the film. He DID become Sir Laurence Olivier for me. I actually forgot he was playing Olivier because I believed he WAS Olivier!
He should have won an Oscar – period!
I realize the film was based on Colin Clark’s book, but I felt the “romance” between the two of them detracted from the real life drama of the story behind the film. Clark’s involvement in Monroe’s life at that time is highly embellished. I guess it’s a little bit of artistic license, but as I said previously, it WAS based on his book so the events that unfold are told from his perspective. I’ve studied the making of The Prince and the Showgirl extensively and I can say that most everything else about the film is 100 per cent accurate. It clearly shows the fragility of Marilyn Monroe, on many levels. Along with the tensions and complexities of making the film, the behind-the-scenes drama is all there, all properly portrayed, and all very, very entertaining.
The film leaves you wondering. Was Marilyn Monroe delicate…difficult…or both. You decide.
All said and done, I highly recommend My Week With Marilyn. However, take the afternoon off and watch The Prince and the Showgirl first. It’s a double-feature that won’t disappoint.