THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

THE GOAL FOR 2018: 200 MOVIES WATCHED BY MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE!  (AFTER TOPPING OUT AT 194 in 2017)

CAN HE DO IT?

​​THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (2011)


Somehow I had missed this film when it was released in 2011 and there was talk of an Academy Award nomination for Michelle Williams’ work as Marilyn Monroe (it didn’t happen). Fortunately, American Airlines offered this among their in-flight entertainment options, and being that I was on a three-hour flight back from Miami, I took advantage. So sorry it took me six years to see this. My Week with Marilyn (#98 on the Weber Movie Countdown) tells the story of one Colin Clark (played by my favorite chameleon Eddie Redmayne), a young, determined lad who spends day and night at Lawrence Olivier’s production office in 1956 looking to get a job in the movies. Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) eventually happens upon him and makes him “third assistant director,” a glorified gofer. The film starting production? The Prince and the Showgirl starring Larry and one worldwide sex symbol named Marilyn Monroe (Williams). The film was a flop, by the way. It’s a rocky shoot as Marilyn constantly shows up late, as her acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker) steadies and encourages her, using method acting (which Olivier HATES)! Eventually, Colin seems to be one of the few who understand her and eventually calls for him when she’s feeling down and refusing to leave her lush rented cottage. Suddenly young Colin is consoling the great Marilyn Monroe and, despite cautions from many, is falling in love, jeopardizing a budding relationship with a wardrobe assistant (Emma Watson). It’s easy to see why Williams won such acclaim – she plays the many sides of Marilyn (which easily could have been a caricature) with feeling, whether desperate to “ACT” the way she’s been trained by the Strasbergs or confused by Olivier’s just wanting her to pretend and to hell with this “method” stuff. This is not an imitation – Marilyn is a fully thought out tragic character who has moments of brightness and exhilaration when she’s off with Colin. She also plays the “public” Marilyn to great effect – when they are in front of a gathering of fans, she turns to Clark and says ‘Should I be “her?”” before launching into the public persona we’ve all seen on newsreels. It’s a joyous moment. Redmayne plays Colin with good cheer, not overwhelmed by the situation but yet unable to avoid the pull of the real Marilyn. Branaugh is blustery and frustrated as Olivier, not just because of her late arrivals and antics but because he sees the immense talent she possesses, a true movie star able to engage the camera – something he had hoped to be, but would never attain. Judi Dench has some moments as Dame Sybil, who also consoles Marilyn and condemns Olivier for being so harsh with her. My Week with Marilyn is well cast and tells a story that I, for one, was not familiar with – and it is a true one, based on a book the real Colin Clark wrote a few years ago. Michelle Williams is transcendent. Highly recommended.

TLA one-word review: sweet