January 14, 2012

All About Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn is based on Colin Clark's The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier.  As a twenty-something production assistant, Mr. Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne) claims to have had a special connection with the iconic movie star during filming. Watching this movie was a peculiar experience because I found the major characters to be unsympathetic. The smitten Clark ditches wardrobe girl Lucy (Emma Watson) for the famous star.  Although Michelle Williams is appropriately little-girl-lost as Marilyn, and I wanted to like Ms. Monroe, I couldn't.  We all know about her drug habit, perpetual tardiness or absences, forgetting lines, troubled childhood.  Despite the unprofessional behavior, she was still being doted on by her entourage that included Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), Arthur Jacobs (Toby Jones), and Milton Greene (Dominic Cooper). Why wouldn't they?  They get paid to do so.  But even Arthur Miller (an unrecognizable Dougray Scott), Marilyn's new husband at the time, had to bail. Maybe she was just a true artist, disturbed and destined to be tragic.

Kenneth Branagh is perfectly cast as a peeved and frustrated Lawrence Olivier.  Why would an actor of his caliber put up with the petulant, insecure, and unreliable Ms. Monroe? He achingly sums it all up in a truthful piece of dialogue that every working actor could probably relate to at some point in their career. Only Julia Ormond as a perceptive and pragmatic Vivien Leigh, and Dame Judi Dench as the kind Lady Sybil Thorndike come off as likable.
(photo from Imp Awards)

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