My Week with Marilyn reviews

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby kkmd » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:54 pm

This has definitely been one of my favorite films in a while. 4.5/5 stars.

Michelle William did a great job at capturing Marilyn's persona, but also added her own sweet taste to it. Her acting really made one nostalgic of Marilyn and the best part was the music! I'm looking forward to adding new songs on my playlist!

Here's a review on the soundtracks: http://thecelebritycafe.com/reviews/my- ... 02-13-2012

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby dws1982 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:40 pm

I agree with Damien's friend.

Move over, In a Better World...you are no longer the worst movie of 2011. This was just incompetent on some of the most basic levels--pacing (War Horse, which was almost an hour longer, felt half as long as this), editing, photography. And good Lord, that screenplay is just an embarrassment. Insight verges on zero, and the characters seem to exist in different universes. The actors try, but they pretty much all go down with the ship.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:28 pm

I liked it. It's not a great movie, but Michelle Williams gives the best Marilyn Monroe imitation I have ever seen. She is appropriately breezy and melancholy at different times in the film. I also liked Eddie Redmayne as the gofer, although I suspect the writer who died a few years ago actually embellished his role in the alledged affair if he didn't make it up altogether. Redmayne is a very good actor who has been impressive for more than a decade now without breaking out into major stardaom. Kenneth Branagh is also quite good as Olivier and Julia Ormond isn't bad as a mischevous Vivien Leigh though the role is underwritten.

The ending drags a bit but doesn;t ruin the film. The one thing I was diappointed in was the characterization of Sybil Thorndike who was the best thing about the film The Prince and the Showgirl. Judi Dench may be great in her own right, but she is no Sybil Thorndike. Thorndike was the Vanessa Redgrave of her day, an activist in her younger years as is noted in the scene where she diplomatically settles a union matter between Redmaye's character and a stage hand, and her on-set dipolomacy was likely quite accurate, but she was no shrinking violet. That cringe-worthy bit in the trailer with Dench cooing "I long to see her" doesn't ring true. A better line for Thorndike would have been "I long to get this over with."

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:46 pm

Mister Tee and Damien's friend are both right. My Week with Marilyn is breezy until it stops being breezy and becomes somnolent, hour-and-a-half or no. This I blame partly on the pacing, partly on the screenplay, but mostly on the co-lead gopher actor and character, who's a charming black hole.

But Michelle Williams is magnificent, a revelation.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:06 pm

Your friend must have ADD. The movie's a brisk hour and a half, and is perfectly painless. This isn't to say it's particularly good, but there are some laughs, it shows moderate insight, and the whole thing breezes by pleasantly enough. I probably liked it more than I'd expected, though my baseline was fairly low. The real flaw is (I read this elsewhere, but it's too dead-on not to repeat), when your main characters are Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier and a gofer, it takes a special madness to make the gofer your central focus, and that madness constricts the film substantially.

But, as BJ says, there are those performances in the two more interesting roles to give the film a reason for being. As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh has some fairly well-written scenes, and some of the funniest lines. It took me a while to warm up to him, but by the end I thought he'd captured the many sides of Olivier -- the pompous ham, the cold-hearted technician, and the appreciator of talent.

I know everyone (including me) is sick of this era where the lead Oscar race seems overrun with impressionists. Marilyn Monroe is someone with whose mannerisms we are so intimately familiar that it would be impossible for us to accept a performance that didn't include the whispery little-girl voice, the sly flirtatious moves. It's to Michelle Williams' credit that she treats those trademarks lightly. Unlike, say, Foxx in Ray or Hoffman in Capote, she doesn't wham us scene after scene with how accurately she's mimicking Monroe's traits. She keeps them as a gloss on top, and then dives into the character. Put it this way: for most of the movie, I let go of "there's Michelle Williams doing Marilyn", and felt I was in the presence of a recognizable human being. The familiarity of this character is of course the major reason why she'll get an Oscar nomination (and might even win). But what she does with the character on a more human level is why she deserves the notice.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Damien » Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:46 pm

An actress friend of mine emailed me: " I got dragged to see My Week With Marilyn tonight. More like "My Month in Loews." HORRIBLE. Atrocious. Boring. Never-ending.Not even campy-bad."
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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:12 pm

My Week With Marilyn pretty much hails from the Me and Orson Welles school of filmmaking. It's about a young man who is thoroughly infatuated with a legend of the silver screen, and the film assumes that we, in the audience, are as infatuated as the main character is with said legend. The film is pretty frothy stuff, without all that much to the story beyond an assumption that the audience will be delighted and thrilled to watch THIS YOUNG GUY...get ROMANCED...by MARILYN...MONROE!! I certainly wouldn't expect anyone here to feel like they learned anything new about Norma Jean from this movie. (I also found it well below Me and Orson Welles in the technical department; Richard Linklater is a real filmmaker, but Simon Curtis's handling here is a lot shabbier -- a number of the scenes feature genuinely awkward cutting.)

But the movie is pleasant enough, and often rather funny, and I imagine many folks here will have at least a decent interest in the material, as I did. The chief reasons to see the film, though, are Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, both of whom I expect will find themselves in the Oscar conversation. Each actor has the rather daunting task of playing an incredibly recognizable screen legend, and both Williams and Branagh pull off fairly strong reincarnations of Monroe and Olivier. They manage to give us plenty of laughs, while also showing what made their characters fragile and vulnerable. Williams, I also imagine, will win points in some corners for doing the opposite of the de-glam trick -- we're so used to seeing her play glum and average, it's surprising to see her in such a beautiful movie star role. (In the Q&A following the movie, it was interesting to hear how Michelle Williams felt she and Kenneth Branagh played out the contrast between their screen characters on the set, with Williams the inexperienced, uneducated performer who just relied on her instincts, and Branagh the master thespian who "knows everything about Shakespeare.")

I'm not sure the material provides either actor the chance to probe as deeply into these characters as they might have, but both are fun and highlights of the movie. If you pressed me, I'd say I don't think either is a winner for something so Being Julia-light, but you never know.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Reza » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:49 pm

Aah well, Williams should be considered a lock on nominations morning.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:21 pm

Big Magilla wrote:A contrarian opinion from Emanuel Levy:


He pretty much said the same thing the reviews below said.
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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:07 pm

A contrarian opinion from Emanuel Levy:

My Week With Marilyn
Grade C

Shallow, slight, and cliché-ridden, “My Week With Marilyn” is nonetheless a sporadically charming and mildly enjoyable film, a fluffy chronicle of a crucial week in the life of the iconic star.

The movie may appeal to the art house crowd due to its sensationalistic subject, the tumultuous relationship between Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.”

You may wonder what such a slight, frivolous, overly familiar piece of showbiz is doing at a prestigious venue such as the New York Film Festival, and the only explanation for that is that the festival may have needed a light fare, a crowd-pleaser to counter-balance such intense and terrific dramas as “Melancholia,” “The Descendants,” “Shame,” and “Policeman.” (I have seen about 18 or 19 of the 26 features in this year’s edition and, for me, it’s the weakest film in an otherwise very strong lineup).

Serving as the centerpiece of the New York Film Fest, “My Week With Marilyn” will be released by the Weinstein Company in early December. It’s hard to predict exactly what would be the commercial success of this HBO-like feature, though it’s safer to say that it’s certainly not a “critics film.”

An actress with an already established impressive range (Oscar nominee for “Brokeback Mountain”), Michelle Williams gives a likeable performance as Marilyn Monroe. The good thing about her work is that though she does not try to impersonate the iconic figure, she very much captures the essence of Marilyn the movie star—if not the “real life” woman; the faults are in the writing rather than in her acting.

The tale is set in a crucial era in Marilyn Monroe’s professional career, stardom, and personal life, in the early summer of 1956.

The tale’s protagonist is not Marilyn but Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a young (“almost 24″ as he says), handsome, wide-eyed guy, an Oxford grad, determined to make his way in the film business. His first job is as a third assistant to the director on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl,” one of Marilyn’s last (and weakest), least popular films.

Shot in London, this film famously (and notoriously) united Sir Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Branagh, who’s miscast) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), the actor, to quote the script “who wanted to be a movie star,” and the movie star “who wanted to be recognized as an actress.” (“The Prince and the Showgirl” did nothing for either performer).

Marilyn was at the time on her honeymoon with her new husband, the playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott, one-dimensional). Though the marriage has just begun, it is already on the rocks.

Nearly 40 years later, a diary account, “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me” was published. However, one week was missing, a week which was later published as “My Week with Marilyn.” The movie is a rather detailed chronicle of that week.

When Arthur Miller (all too conveniently) leaves England, claiming that “I can’t work, I can’t rest, Marilyn is devouring me,” Colin becomes Marilyn’s most reliable and trusted companion. There are some intimations of romantic infatuation and perhaps even sexual encounter, though the most intimate images of the couple on screen is seeing the two swimming in the nude, embracing in bed, holding hands in the bacseat of a car, and so on.

The duo spends what could be described an idyllic week, in which Colin escorts Marilyn, who’s desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work. The irony is that, no matter where she goes (including libraries and colleges, not just shops), she attracts immense attention and adoration.

She’s especially desperate to get away from the clutches of Olivier, her director and co-star, whom she regards as unnecessarily harsh–her “enemy.” According to this saga, Olivier could require numerous takes over of the same line (or getsure) over and over again.

Poorly penned by Adrian Hodges, the script is all clichés and, with the exception of Marilyn and Colin, the narrative contains largely one-dimensional, stereotypical characters.

As Colin Clark, the young assistant, who is warned by his superiors of Marilyn’s manipulative nature and erratic, insecure behavior, only to fall head over heels over her, Eddie Redmayne gives a compelling performance.

You do believe that a 23-year-old lad, who has not really experienced love or passion in his life, would do anything to spend time with the gorgeous star. To that extent, Colin neglects his loving girlfriend Lucy (Emma Watson), forgets his dates with her, and almost loses her completely. All too submissive, Lucy shows understanding of her beau’s feelings for the star.

(This subplot reminds me of my interview with Simone Signoret, while researching my biography of George Cukor, “Master of Elegance.” Cukor directed Marilyn and Yves Montand (Signoret’s husband) in the film “Let’s Make Love,” in 1960. Told that her husband had an affair with Marilyn, Signoret said: “Do you blame Yves? Do you know any man who would not sleep with Marilyn–given the opportunity?).

Kenneth Branagh plays Olivier completely from the outside, and if his performance is truly disappointing, it is not just because he doesn’t look or sound like Olivier, but mostly because he is given one-liners to recite, such as “Her talent is strictly instinctive.”

Of the principal characters, Paula Strasberg (wife of Method guru Lee Strasberg), who was Marilyn’s acting coach, present on the sets of each of her pictures, comes off the worst–as a Jewish Yenta. You can’t blame Zoe Wanamaker, an otherwise terrific actress, for rendering such a weak performance.

The secondary cast, including Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, Judi Dench as the famous British actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, and others are all stuck with narrowly defined roles, played in one or two scenes.

At the risk of sounding too critical, may I suggest that those who know Marilyn’s life and Hollywood history of the 1950s, will be vastly disappointed, for the movie doesn’t contain a single note or fresh observation that is not already familiar from the vast lore (and folklore), docus, books, albums about the legendary star, who died in 1962, at the age of 36.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:39 pm

Variety...though who the hell this critic is eludes me.

My Week With Marilyn
By Ronnie Scheib

'My Week With Marilyn'

Powered By A Weinstein Co. release of a Weinstein Co., BBC Films, Trademark Films production. Produced by David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein. Executive producers, Jamie Laurenson, Simon Curtis, Ivan Mactaggart, Christine Langan, Bob Weinstein, Kelly Carmichael. Co-producer, Mark Cooper. Co-executive producer, Colin Vaines. Directed by Simon Curtis. Screenplay, Adrian Hodges, based on the diaries by Colin Clark.
Marilyn Monroe - Michelle Williams
Colin Clark - Eddie Redmayne
Laurence Olivier - Kenneth Branagh
Milton Greene - Dominic Cooper
Vivien Leigh - Julia Ormond
Lucy - Emma Watson
Sybil Thorndike - Judi Dench
Paula Strasberg - Zoe Wanamaker
Arthur Jacobs - Toby Jones
Owen Morshead - Derek Jacobi
Arthur Miller - Dougray Scott

To the extent that Michelle Williams' multilayered interpretation of Marilyn Monroe serves as its raison d'etre, "My Week With Marilyn" succeeds stunningly. Otherwise, the film flits uneasily between arch drawing-room comedy and foreshadowed tragedy as perceived by infatuated young Brit Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), recounting his personal experiences with the fragile screen icon during the shooting of 1957's "The Prince and the Showgirl." Taking no chances, unlike its star, "Marilyn" complacently coasts on Williams' bravura perf amid mostly stodgy showbiz re-creations, but awards buzz and ever-reliable Anglophilia could spell solid B.O. returns for the Weinstein Co.
The true story itself feels ripped from film fan magazines of the period, as scribe Adrian Hodges and helmer Simon Curtis filter the proceedings through their protagonist/narrator, the youngest in an upper-class family of intellectuals. Colin heads off to London to work in a movie industry pooh-poohed by his elders, landing a job as third assistant director on "The Prince and the Showgirl," starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), also helming the pic.

It's through Clark's eyes that Monroe is introduced as she arrives in London for the first time, accompanied by new husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). She proceeds to seduce and captivate the press, although no amount of charm works on Olivier, whose explosive ego seems ill suited to the job of placating director. Olivier's literal-minded belief in letter-perfect discipline conflicts with Monroe's more coddled Method acting, the professional insecurities of both stars -- one rising, one falling -- exacerbating the problem.

Feeling dissed, abandoned and misunderstood in a strange land (her husband having returned to New York), Monroe latches on to Colin as her champion and confidant ("Why is Sir Larry so mean to me?"), someone who can support her against the old guard. The two share a sexually charged but platonic intimacy, Colin apparently being the latest in a long line of such lads.

Hodges' script deliberately contrasts the hidebound aristocracy of the British stage with the natural, untutored spontaneity of Hollywood; at one point, Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) reminds Branagh's Olivier that, unlike them, Monroe knows how to act for the camera. Ironically, then, "Marilyn" is all too stagily directed by theater- and TV-trained Curtis, lining up his characters with no attention to spatial logic or rhythmic flow. Every moment, period detail, antique roadster or TWA passenger plane seems carefully placed for superficial authenticity; although this approach sometimes plays effectively against Williams' continually morphing performance, it leaves the film's non-Monroe sections mired in artifice.

Thesping is surprisingly hit-or-miss, given the roster of English luminaries; Branagh's exclusive use of theatrical rhetoric works better in comedic scenes than in the film's occasional attempts at emotional depth. Dench's performance is rousing but familiar; Redmayne brings a bright-eyed, puppy-dog eagerness to his role; and standout Toby Jones strikes a rare eclectic note as a loudmouth American press agent.

But the film belongs to Williams, whose tour-de-force turn conflates three Marilyns: the lost, damaged little girl who seeks to escape others' expectations and return to simpler childhood days; the sexy superstar who impishly poses with a wink in complicity with her public; and the actress playing a pre-scripted part. The genius of the performance lies in the way Williams stresses the interconnectedness of these personalities: The neediness fuels the impudence, the vulnerability turns sexually provocative, and the little girl and sexpot together drive the screen role.

Thesp even ventures into saucy singing and dancing a la Marilyn in the pic's opening and closing numbers.

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Re: My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:35 pm

Hollywood Reporter

My Week With Marilyn: Film Review
5:26 PM PDT 10/9/2011 by David Rooney
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper

NEW YORK – The luminous Michelle Williams gives a layered performance that goes beyond impersonation in My Week With Marilyn. Playing both the damaged, insecure woman and the sensual celebrity construct, as well as the role with which Marilyn Monroe was struggling during a particularly difficult shoot, Williams gets us on intimate terms with one of Hollywood’s most enduring and tragic icons. If much of what surrounds her in Simon Curtis’ biographical drama is less nuanced, her work alone keeps the movie entertaining.

our editor recommends
'My Week With Marilyn': Michelle Williams Takes on Monroe (Video)Michelle Williams: What's Next For The 'My Week With Marilyn' ActressSimon Curtis' 'My Week With Marilyn' to Premiere at 2011 NYFFFollowing its premiere as the Centerpiece gala of the New York Film Festival, the film will be released Nov. 4 by the Weinstein Company, which likely is planning an awards-season push behind Williams.

Adrian Hodges’ dutiful screenplay is based on two memoirs by Colin Clark, “The Prince, The Showgirl and Me,” and a subsequent confessional volume that gives the film its title. The 23-year-old Clark was third a.d. to Laurence Olivier during production on the 1957 feature, The Prince and the Showgirl, a forgettable comedy adapted by Terence Rattigan from his play, The Sleeping Prince.

Monroe’s co-star and director on the picture, Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) had acquired his professional discipline and classical training slogging away in repertory theater companies. As portrayed here, he shows little patience for Monroe’s chronic tardiness, her nervous jitters and her infuriating devotion to Method acting. Things get off to a bad start when she keeps a cast that includes the illustrious Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) standing around in full costume for two hours on the first day of shooting.

Recently married to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) and anxious to be taken seriously as an actress, Marilyn has her own on-set, one-woman pep squad to run interference in acting coach Paula Strasberg (ZoëWanamaker), whose maternal instincts appear not without self-interest.

The culture-clash element slips in and out of focus in Hodges’ script, bringing only obvious insights to the incompatibility between seasoned British professionals and an unschooled actress whose fragility was equal to her fame. The film finds more texture, if not much more substance, in the delicate quasi-romance at its center between Marilyn and Colin (Eddie Redmayne).

The son of a well-connected family, Colin begins dating Lucy (an underused Emma Watson), who works in wardrobe. But he grows steadily more mesmerized by Marilyn. When Miller retreats to New York, Colin gains her trust and is called upon to mediate during crises. But despite repeated warnings to avoid getting in too deep, he falls under her spell, bewitched as much by the sad child-woman as by the dream goddess.

Redmayne strikes a fine balance between blind adoration and a more manful urge to protect Marilyn. His work, as much as Williams’ bruised candor, makes their scenes together captivating.

“That’s the first time I’ve kissed anyone younger than me,” she says after a brief lip-lock during a day of truancy from the set. “There’s a lot of older guys in Hollywood.” That duality -- guileless and jaded, instinctive and knowing, helpless and manipulative -- is key to Williams’ characterization. While there are no startling new insights, she harnesses the essence of Marilyn as a fully sexualized being and a lost girl caught up in something she both needs and fears. Williams also does her own singing, nailing Monroe’s breathy vocal style in clips of her doing “Heatwave” and “That Old Black Magic.”

Beyond its lead performance, the film suffers from the chintzy counterfeit feel of too many screen recreations of real-life celebrity tales. (Think Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl, or Truman Capote drama Infamous.) Dench has a couple of lovely moments when Thorndike graciously extends a sympathetic hand to Monroe, but other characters like Scott’s Miller or Julia Ormond’s Vivien Leigh are merely check marks on a famous-name roll call.

Branagh takes his cue from one of Olivier’s hammier film turns, windily quoting Prospero while vacillating between pompous eye-rolling and humbled admiration. He does show the odd flicker of life, particularly when Larry’s vanity or petulance reveal themselves. But there’s barely a character beneath the so-so imitation.

Fault lies with both Hodges’ workmanlike script and Curtis’ failure to excavate much psychological depth. The director comes from an extensive background in theater and television, notably the two Cranford series and the gripping, under-appreciated crime mini, Five Days. (The roster of accomplished British actors turning up in nothing roles, among them Dominic Cooper, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones and Simon Russell Beale, attests to his clout.) But while he does coax marvelously loose work from Williams, Curtis’ first theatrical feature is otherwise starchy and short on perspective.

The movie looks polished and smartly recreates the period, often filming on the same Pinewood Studios sets where The Prince and the Showgirl was shot. But its slickness feels a little anonymous. Beyond the not-inconsiderable enjoyment of watching Williams inhabit a pop-culture legend, My Week With Marilyn is superficial showbiz pageantry.

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My Week with Marilyn reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:54 pm

Screen Daily, leading off.


My Week With Marilyn
9 October, 2011 | By Howard Feinstein


Dir: Simon Curtis. UK. 2011. 96mins


“American acting royalty meets British acting royalty.” This glib comment by Jacobs (Toby Jones), a publicist for Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) who has arrived for the London shoot of the 1956 The Prince And The Showgirl (then called The Sleeping Prince), could just as well describe this film version of the memoirs of Colin Clarke (Eddie Redmayne) about the time the fish-out-of-water icon took him, a young privileged man who was merely a third assistant director on the famously troubled set, into her confidence and her bedroom.

Williams is a sure bet for Academy recognition.
The public in English-speaking territories should take to the subject and the film itself, a crowd pleaser in spite of it’s resemblance to a British television movie with a great cast that masks its thinness. (Made at London’s Pinewood Studios, almost every shot seems like a spare studio interior; the fog machines don’t alter the feeling. The few exteriors are mostly establishing shots of grand estates like Windsor Castle and Clarke’s childhood home, Saltwood Castle, as well as an extended sequence in a park on a lake.)

Given Monroe’s legendary status, sales should be brisk in most parts of the world, even if the cleverly written one-liners and bitchy monologues will lose a lot in translation. Williams is a sure bet for Academy recognition. My Week With Marilyn had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival October 9.

Williams isn’t considered royalty in the US film scene, but she’s probably on her way up there. Her casting as Monroe (a role that was supposedly going to Scarlet Johansson) certainly points to a rise in the Hollywood hierarchy. Audiences will come to see her play the actress then considered “the most famous woman in the world.” Most of the time, especially in her own solo renditions of “When Love Goes Wrong (Nothing Goes Right)” and “That Old Black Magic” (the two songs bookend the film), with nothing and no one around her, she gets it right, while at other times, especially in scenes of the film within the film, she wanders off the mark.

Working against her are fabulous interpretations by the British royals: the older generation of Judi Dench as the empathetic Dame Sybil Thorndike, Derek Jacobi as Clarke’s uncle and the librarian of Windsor Castle, Sir Owen Morshead, and Kenneth Branagh as the frustrated director and male star of The Prince and the Showgirl, Laurence Olivier (a role once assigned to Ralph Fiennes); and a newer generation of major talents, including Dominic Cooper as Monroe associate Milton Greene, Emma Watson as Clarke’s girlfriend Lucy, and especially Redmayne. His Clarke is a perfect blend of innocence and surfacing sexual energy. In fact, his warmth and excitability pull you into the film more than Williams’s Monroe.

We buy Branagh as Olivier even though he looks nothing like him, but because he is so adept at conveying the arrogance and wicked humour of the great actor. Dench exudes such warmth and delivers her snappy lines so brilliantly that she is a tough act to follow, much less go up against. Most viewers will be scouring Williams’s performance for what she gets right and what she gets wrong, and having the finest thespians in Britain opposite her only highlights the slight defects. Unfortunately, much of her dialogue in Adrian Hodges’s screenplay makes her look stupid.

In the film, Clarke - son of Sir Kenneth - wants to make his own way in the world, specifically in the movie business. He manages to get a nothing job on the set of Olivier’s production, performing menial tasks. He beams with such goodness that several stars, such as Julia Ormond’s Vivien Leigh, fearful of potential infidelity, ask him to spy for them.

Through a set of strange circumstances, Monroe begins to lean on the fellow, who is, like most men in her heyday, in love with her, despite warnings from all of the males who know her and Lucy’s expressed suspicions. He escorts her around town and the countryside, and offers unconditional support, which is lacking in many of the others whose patience threshold has been breached.

Her entourage is upset by the presence of this interloper, especially Cooper’s Greene and Zoe Wanamaker’s uber-Jewish Method acting coach Paula Strasberg (“Open the door, bubbeleh!”). Monroe, however, is insistent. Given that she is normally two hours late on the set and either doped up or hung over, they and Olivier begin to appreciate his help in getting Monroe into working mode.

Her new husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), has come to the set and gone, so she is alone, and it is a maxim among her staff that she can not be alone. Clarke gives her the attention she needs, and she is expert in taking a gullible man for a ride when it serves her needs. This is the crux of the drama here, and its relative isolation from the actions and dialogue of all the others grants it a potency lacking when the screen is full of super-talented British thespians.

Some fine standards dot the soundtrack, but a few, including Dean Martin’s version of “Memories Are Made of This” and Nat King Cole’s splendid rendition of “Autumn Leaves,” play at the most obvious moments; the redundancy is facile.


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