Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: My Week With Marilyn (+trailer)

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Michelle Williams is extraordinarily good as Marilyn Monroe. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Williams is extraordinarily good as Marilyn Monroe. Photo / Supplied

My Week with Marilyn is a light and witty affair, driven by Michelle Williams' dazzling performance as Marilyn Monroe and an equally memorable turn by Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier.

It tells the story of Colin Clark, a young man who used family connections to get his first job in the film industry working on The Prince and the Showgirl, the film starring Monroe and Olivier, who also directed. Shot in 1956, production was notoriously difficult as Olivier struggled with Monroe's tardiness, obsession with method acting, and drug-induced mood swings.

Forty years later Clark released a diary-style memoir about the production called The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, followed by another memoir called My Week With Marilyn, which detailed a week skipped in the previous memoir and tells a more intimate story of time he spent at Marilyn's side.

So this is no epic biopic but rather a breathy and saucy snapshot into the professional and personal life of Monroe. Still, the film needed to get Monroe right and Williams nails her with a performance that makes the film seem more substantial than what it really is; a gentle and amusing period piece set in the film industry.

Which isn't to say My Week with Marilyn doesn't touch on Monroe's fatherless upbringing, reliance on prescription drugs, and personal and professional insecurities. Williams also reminds us why Monroe became a film star; when she's on form there is no one more alluring or captivating.

Eddie Redmayne is suitably wide eyed as the enthusiastic Colin Clark, and Dame Judi Dench is in good form as actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, scolding Olivier for his abrasiveness towards Marilyn in a genuine show of kindness towards the actress. The rest of the supporting cast, however, including Dougray Scott as husband Arthur Miller, Dominic Cooper as Monroe's business partner Milton Greene, and Zoe Wanamaker as her method acting coach Paula Strasberg, are treated as scene fillers.

This is Clark's story though and it's told from his naive point of view. So if you're looking for new insights on Monroe you may be disappointed, but it's a delightful and entertaining movie all the same.

Stars: 4/5
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Simon Curtis
Running time: 99 mins
Rating: M (offensive language)
Verdict: Michelle Williams shines in this delightful drama

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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