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Wednesday, 23 November 2011 00:00

A Entertaining Time during 'My Week with Marilyn'

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Written by Diane Carson
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In 1956 Sir Laurence Olivier decided to star in and direct The Prince and the Showgirl, with international icon Marilyn Monroe. Like oil and water, Olivier and Monroe had such different temperaments and approaches to acting that the production became a nightmare, one third assistant director Colin Clark documented daily, now masterfully presented in Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn.

Actually, Clark kept two diaries. In The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, Colin recorded the day-to-day activities on the set. In the other more secretive one that he titled My Week with Marilyn, he described his personal experiences with a Monroe eager, even desperate, to escape the anxiety of performing. To relax and have someone tell her the truth—that's what she sought and found with Clark, as he remembers it.

The film begins with Monroe and new husband Arthur Miller arriving in London. The story proceeds to Pinewood Studios and stressful days—Marilyn late, distraught, forgetting her lines, and very nervous. The punctual, extremely organized Olivier is incensed, upset, beside himself. Yet, on screen, he sees that Monroe is luminous. In fact, she did receive a couple nominations and awards for her performance.

This highly entertaining, behind-the-scenes plot moves fast and, I can add, having just finished both the diaries, gets almost all the details exactly right, plunging the viewer into the production's up and downs. As Monroe, Michelle Williams astonishes with her superb channeling of Marilyn, though no one can ever completely capture her on-camera charisma. As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh clearly relishes the opportunity to play Sir Laurence, especially when quoting Shakespeare. Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, the Queen Dowager in the 1957 film, steals every scene, demonstrating by doing almost nothing what great acting is. Dominic Cooper, Emma Watson, Julia Ormond, and Derek Jacobi are solid. Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark appoints himself quite well, especially in reaction shots.

Technically, My Week with Marilyn appropriately mimics the 1950s style of fixed camera positions and Technicolor art design. The editing is fast paced for the first third of the film when excitement reigns and slows down as Marilyn stymies production and cast and crew wait on her. The well-chosen period music expresses the emotional tenor of the characters at various moments. This is a well-done film that nicely mixes humor with sadness as it reveals the volatile world of filmmaking. At a Landmark Theater.

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