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My Week with Marilyn (2011)

“People always see Marilyn Monroe. As soon as they realise I’m not her, they run”

Cast: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh

In the summer of 1956 Colin Clark set out to make his way in the film business, finding work as a lowly assistant on the set of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. During his time there Clark kept a diary, ‘The Prince, the Showgirl and Me’, which was published nearly 40 years after the film. One week was missing (though published a few years later), ‘My Week with Marilyn’ tells the story of that week.

While I’m way too young to have known Marilyn Monroe when she was around, she has always fascinated me. Her short-lived life was filled with drama and intrigue and has left her an icon among the people. Surprisingly Monroe hasn’t been portrayed in a full-length feature film before (apart from made-for-TV drama ‘Norma Jean & Marilyn’), so My Week with Marilyn is one to set the bar.

Initially, the biggest issue surrounding the film was who was playing Monroe. When Williams was cast though, there was no doubt in my mind she could pull it off. Her gritty, indie vibe really allows her to get into character and rather than portraying this bigger than life, blonde sex-kitten we are all too familiar with, we instead see a complex, layered and vulnerable woman who just wanted to be loved. Everything, from her mannerisms to her internal conflict and wants to be accepted, was spot on.

Redmayne was also very impressive. His character is arguably the heart of the film and as the timid, star-stuck Colin, his talents really shine. Spending a week with Monroe and showing her the beauties of England, he falls in love with her – not the showgirl who entertains but the woman beneath. This relationship is wonderful to watch blossom as in this time, Monroe is stripped of her fame and troubles and is just a regular woman – something the world often forgot she was.

We also see appearances from Judi Dench and Emma Watson, adding further dimensions to how Monroe was received by other people – naive, troubled, sexualised, promiscuous, renowned – and lessening the focus of Laurence Olivier’s volatile and strained attitude towards her, which at times was sad to watch.

My Week with Marilyn is a great watch. You won’t get the sexualised, blonde bombshell normally portrayed but you will see fragmented bits and pieces of the iconographic woman she became in the public eye. Portraying the woman behind the facade and giving more substance to Monroe than just the typical caricature the world likes to display, this film still only just scratches the surface. I have no doubt there will be more to come in the future, but My Week with Marilyn is the first film to show us the girl behind the name.

Star rating:  7/10

Directed by Simon Curtis.

Running time 99 minutes.

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