Starring: Michelle Williams , Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Brannagh, Dame Judy Dench, Emma Watson
As someone born a little (or alot) too late to enjoy the success of Marilyn first hand, and to have never retrospectively watched any of her films (although I hope to rectify this one day soon) it was a little hard for me to get excited about seeing this biography about a young man’s experience of Marilyn Monroe.
Based on Colin Clark’s two books, “The Princess, The Showgirl and Me” and “My Week With Marilyn”, the film follows Clark (Redmayne) as he undertakes his first job after leaving university, ending up as a third assistant director (basically a dogs body) for a film, The Prince and the Showgirl. Whilst on set, Clark meets Monroe (Williams), who turns out to have difficulty adapting to life in Britain and strikes an unlikely relationship with her.
I have to say I have a fair level of respect for all those involved in the film. Michelle Williams is turning out to be a great actress in her own right, and with performances such as those in Blue Valentine and Brokeback Mountain, has thankfully managed to throw off the shackles of Dawson’s Creek. Her performance as Marilyn is once again stand-out and her attempts to replicate the aura that must have surrounded the blond bombshell are admirable albeit slightly lacking.
As for Eddie Redmayne this is the first time of seeing him in a film, and whilst his performance is not spectacular, he is solid and has a certain likeability that shines through into the role. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of Marius in the upcoming Les Miserables.
Brannagh and Dench are their usual excellent selves, respectively playing the “devil” and “angel” of the film studio, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Dame Sybil Thorndike, although at times Brannagh is a touch guilty of overacting. And a man of his experience!
The first film for Emma Watson outside of Harry Potter is probably not her finest hour. It was difficult not to think of her as anything but Hermione Granger, and whilst I fully expect her to have a fine career, her turn in Marilyn was somewhat wooden.
Beyond the main cast, there is an array of famous British actors attempting American accents badly, such as Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper and Zoe Wanamaker, and sadly their portrayal of Monroe’s entourage is somewhat over the top and difficult to like.
Simon Curtis does fairly well behind the camera, executing the simple things easily and even throwing in a few beautifully shot scenes, particularly the first kiss between Marilyn and Colin.
Whilst Marilyn is a fairly solid film, it is not remarkable and I feel will be easily forgotten. Whilst Williams’ performance was the highlight, it wasn’t enough to convince me that Monroe was such a wanted woman. Yes, she may have been beautiful, but this film shows her complicated nature and need for approval, which suggests just how flawed a character she might have been, and so it was hard to appreciate Olivier and Clark’s love for her. If this is a film that interests you then I suggest watching it, but if you are on the fence then there are probably better uses for your time.
If this film is anything to go by, some like it tepid.
Rating 3 out of 5