Saturday, January 07, 2012

My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn / My Week with Marilyn. GB/US 2011. The Weinstein Company / BBC Films. EX: Kelly Carmichael, Bob Weinstein. P: David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein. D: Simon Curtis. SC: Adrian Hodges - based on Colin Clark's books My Week with Marilyn (2000) and The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me (1995). DP: Ben Smithard. PD: Donal Woods. AD: Charmian Adams. Set dec: Judy Farr. Cost: Jill Taylor. Makeup: Jenny Shircore. M: Conrad Pope, with “Marilyn’s Theme” by Alexandre Desplat, piano solos by Lang Lang. "Tropical Heat Wave", "I Found A Dream", "Old Black Magic" sung by Michelle Williams. ED: Adam Recht. Casting: Deborah Aquila, Nina Gold, Tricia Wood. WITH: Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe), Kenneth Branagh (Laurence Olivier), Eddie Redmayne (Colin Clark), Dominic Cooper (Milton Greene), Philip Jackson (Roger Smith), Derek Jacobi (Owen Morshead), Toby Jones (Arthur Jacobs), Michael Kitchen (Hugh Perceval), Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh), Simon Russell Beale (Cotes-Preedy), Dougray Scott (Arthur Miller), Zoe Wanamaker (Paula Strasberg), Emma Watson (Lucy), and Judi Dench (Sybil Thorndike). 99 min. Released in Finland by Scanbox Entertainment with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by J.E. Lähdesmäki / Saliven Gustavson. 2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 10, Helsinki, 7 Jan 2012.

40 days after my traffic accident my movie-sitting muscles are fit enough to visit the cinema again.

I like the Michelle Williams impersonation of Marilyn Monroe. Wisely, it is not too much of an imitation. Instead Ms. Williams uses her own considerable personal charm and lets Marilyn be the inspiration. I like the combination of courage, frankness, joy, sense of humour, sensitivity, pain, vulnerability and fausse-naïveté in Michelle Williams's performance. She cannot be the immortal sex goddess, and she has nothing to envy about that, because the deepest secret of MM's star charisma lay in the desperate conditions of her early years, as is hinted at during the film. A deep bow to Michelle Williams who is not overwhelmed by the role she is portraying. She makes it her own in a naturally attractive and appealing way.

I also like Kenneth Branagh's performance as Laurence Olivier. Olivier was at a turning-point in his career, and it soon turned out that he was capable of reinventing himself during the revolution of the Angry Young Men. But at this moment he was old hat, and it was an interesting point in this movie that through Vivien Leigh's experience with Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando he had heard so much about the Method which he hated. The Prince and the Showgirl was not a happy experience for him, but he went on record that he had a high regard for Monroe's performance afterwards, although the production itself was unhappy.

The casting of Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike is a masterstroke.

The Prince and the Showgirl was not a topical subject for a movie when it was made. Ernst Lubitsch could have made a great film of the material, but even Otto Preminger and Billy Wilder were no longer able to direct a sparkling film of such a story. The result was not very successful, but Marilyn Monroe was at her most beautiful in the movie, the only one produced by herself. It was shot in glorious Technicolor by the master Jack Cardiff (1914-2009).

The modest visual quality of the 2K DCP of My Week with Marilyn does not pay justice to the Technicolor glory of the original Marilyn Monroe footage of 1957.

P.S. 1 Feb 2012: my good friend Valerie from Los Angeles, who knows much more about Marilyn than I do, comments that Michelle Williams' baby voice is ok for Marilyn's dumb blonde act in the movies, but in real life she had a grown-up woman's voice which we don't get to hear in My Week with Marilyn. Marilyn's real voice has been documented on her interview tapes.

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