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My Week with Marilyn (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 101 minutes

OK for children.

One of my bridge partners, now deceased, was married to Marilyn Monroe's psychiatrist. One evening he took her out for her birthday dinner, and who showed up but Marilyn herself. His birthday present to her was dinner with Marilyn. All those years later she glowed as she told me of that night. She said Marilyn couldn't have been sweeter or more attentive, as if my friend were the only person in the world who mattered.

Marilyn Monroe remains an enigma to this day. She was a star in a world that didn't contain Oprah or all the other talk shows that strip a celebrity naked emotionally, so that the world knows everything there is to know and then some.

The filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1956) is legendary for the relationship between Marilyn (Michelle Williams) and her co-star Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Brannagh). According to the legend, Marilyn was difficult, constantly late, and she drove Olivier nuts.

This film is based on the autobiographical memoir of the same name by Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), which followed his first, The Prince, The Showgirl and Me,  which told about his experiences working as third assistant director on the film. But one week was missing. A few years later he came out with the titular memoir which explained why that week was missing, and that's this film.

Director Simon Curtis clearly knows about pace. There's not a second that drags. And he gets the most out of his cast. Michelle Williams gives an award-quality performance as Marilyn. She not only looks and moves like Marilyn, she acts like her and she captures her insecurities, but also her presence as a star and how she used it.

Brannagh is charming as the exasperated Olivier. I remember the film well because it's one of my favorite Marilyn Monroe movies, and even though Brannagh doesn't look a thing like Olivier, he sounds exactly like him.

The color photography (Ben Smithard) is beautiful, especially in catching Marilyn's ripe red lips.

Redmayne gives a scintillating performance as the young man infatuated with a gorgeous movie star. Because the relationship is romantic but platonic, it takes a lot of skillful acting by both Redmayne and Williams to capture its sweetness.

The script (Adrian Hodges) is very good, even if it does steal a Goldwynism ("The most important thing in acting is honesty. . .  And once you learn to fake that, you're in.") and puts it on Olivier's lips.

This is highly entertaining, a sure winner.