More like a forest fire than a candle in the wind, either way you’d better like it hot!
Based off of Colin Clark’s diary of the same name and The Prince, The Showgirl and Me, My Week with Marilyn follows Clark’s work on the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl. Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn only shies away from biopic territory by being more about Clark than the enigmatic Marilyn Monroe.
Clark (Eddie Redmayne) functions as the window into the topsy-turvy world of Marilyn Monore (Michelle Williams). He soon becomes the go-between balancing Sir Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) frustrations with Monroe with his own baffling desire for her. He is put in a more precarious position when Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) returns to America and he is tasked with looking after Monroe, developing a chaste, but mildly inappropriate love affair on the side.
It’s hard to tell how exactly one is supposed to feel about Monroe. She demands near constant attention from anyone and everyone during her irrational mood swings and is practically manic depressive. If you’ve ever had to deal with manic depressives you’ll know the act becomes boring and repetitive around the third or fourth emotional crash. Watching it on film just makes it harder to empathize with the psychotic behavior.
Michelle Williams’ acting is stronger than the character. She creates a realistic character out of Monroe; the character is not reduced down to a person the audience can simply love or hate unquestioningly, nor is only a single aspect of her personality emphasized. There is a wide range of feelings a viewer could have towards the character. This skill in acting Williams established in Blue Valentine is built on here, making her a pleasure to watch onscreen.
Unfortunately, the love affair feels as reliable as something coming from a British tabloid. The film works on the premise that Clark is somehow falling in love with Monroe while escorting her around England. How Clark could prefer the blonde-headed Monroe, who we see heavily drugged and unable to function socially, when he has a blossoming relationship with Emma Watson is clearly a sign of confused priorities. This is not helped by Redmayne, whose deer-in-headlights look during his interactions with Monroe feels inconsistent with the competent entrepreneurial character. Redmayne and William’s characters are strong, their relationship is not.
Regardless of its weaknesses, My Week with Marilyn is a film that will satisfy whatever itch you have, for however long you’ve had it. The film will definitely be more appreciated by people who’ve watched Monroe’s films, or have some understanding of her pop culture icon/sex symbol status. One thing is certain, Monroe was more of an out-of-control forest fire than as lyricist Bernie Taupin’s “Candle in the Wind” would describe her.