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Thursday, December 22, 2011

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

A NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

By D.E.Levine

My Week With Marilyn is a charming film that covers the period when Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) was in the United Kingdom filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir. Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh).

Written by Adrian Hodges and adapted from the memoir by Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a 23-year old aristocrat just graduated from Oxford and determined to get into the film business in the summer of 1956, Colin describes how he worked as a lowly go-fer assistant to Olivier on the film and got to personally know Marilyn during one week.

When the film opens during a re-enactment of one of Marilyn's famous musical numbers you can see that padding was necessary to give Michelle's slight figure the voluptuous Monroe curves. The makeup isn't convincing either, but that's just at the beginning of the film.

As it progresses, we see that the aging Olivier is hoping that producing and starring in the film with a hot actress like Marilyn will re-vitalize his career. Marilyn has her own goals since she's recently married to famed playwright Arthur Miller and desperately wants to be accepted as an artistic actress, not just a movie star. By producing and starring in the film, Marilyn hopes that her association with the British theater elite will elevate her status.

The story reveals Marilyn as nervous and unsure, bonded at the hip to acting coach Paula Strasberg, and genuinely surprised when Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) tells her "None of the rest of us know how to act for the camera - but, you do."

Marilyn is depressed, drugged, tardy and sometimes inconsolable. However, she shows brilliance when filming and her transgressions are forgiven. Having taken a shine to you Colin, she goes sightseeing and skinny dipping with him, share confidences with him at her rented home, and invites him to cuddle in her bed.

What we see is that the real Marilyn played the part of the public, movie star Marilyn. In the film at least, we see that Private Marilyn turned public Marilyn on and off at will.

In the end, Marilyn goes home to America and Colin Clark has a long, distinguished career.