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Film Review : My Week With Marilyn

Jan 18, 2012 01:59AM ● By Justin Buettner

In 1956 Collin Clark -- who at the time was a a third assistant director to a movie directed by Laurence Olivier -- befriended and spent a week with Marilyn Monroe on the set of the film The Prince and the Showgirl. Based on true events, My Week With Marilyn chronicles those exploits based on the pages of Clark’s diary. During their week together Clark falls for Monroe, who seems to have fun flirting with the young man -- even though she is a three month newlywed to her third husband, Arthur Miller.

The film certainly has a stellar cast. It would be hard to find much fault with any of the acting. Michelle Williams is right at home playing the part of Monroe. Eddie Redmayne is unspectacular but not awful in the lead role of Clark. The supporting cast is filled by the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson and Julia Ormond and all of them are great, as to be expected.

Unfortunately, though, the story falls short. Some of that may be due to the direction of Simon Curtis. The weight of the moment is curiously missing. So while the movie moves through the motions of the situation it doesn't give the audience a clear perspective of how to perceive the story. The movie is written by Clark himself, so naturally the perspective should be placed upon that character. However the movie shifts from Clark’s point of view to Monroe’s point of view to Laurence Olivier’s point of view without much rhythm or reason. And because the film never puts enough background information or strong enough emotional weight in key scenes the story does not feel deep. In fact it comes across as rather creepy. It glamorizes a young boy taking advantage of what appears to be a psychologically sick girl. In addition everyone looks on and does nothing as a group of twisted individuals seem to drug and manipulate a person for greed and power. Perhaps that is what happened in real life, but the movie seems to have very little to say about any of these heavy themes it presents. In fact, the film is so preoccupied with the creepy relationship between Monroe and Clark that it almost seems unaware of the bigger issues that it’s presenting.

Though again, the movie is based on Clark's diaries and he co-wrote the screenplay for this movie, his character in the film is wafer thin. Clark’s background is established in a very short scene while credits play at the beginning through a short voice over. His motivations and desire are nothing more deep than wanting to be on the set. He proceeds to wander through the movie star gazing and pandering to people. In short, there is little to no character arc to speak off. When the film ends it is hard to put a finger on what the film was really about. Not one character’s life was altered in a meaningful way and no one benefited from the experiences in the film in a way that someone in the audience can relate to. The story has no lasting impact because it simply didn't have a point in the end.

At a running time of just over an hour and a half, the movie does keep straight to the point and nothing feels too drawn out. Under a more experienced director and a better writer, I feel like this movie could have made a huge emotional impact, but as it's presented here, it’s frustratingly lightweight.  Outside the circles of Marilyn Monroe fans I fear most audiences will find this movie rather forgettable and flat. It’s a shame, too, because the sheer strength of the cast doesn’t populate many movies and their efforts should have paid off with a better story.

Films like My Week With Marilyn: Notting Hill, The Bridges of Madison County and The Bodyguard

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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