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film review: my week with marilyn

The much anticipated My Week With Marilyn is a window into the world of a timeless film idol, told through the eyes of young movie-making hopeful Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne). The film is based on the actual diaries written by Clark during his time with Marilyn while making The Prince and the Showgirl in London. Colin, like many around him, is mesmerised by Monroe. Yet as he watches her in action, we see a Marilyn crippled by a lack of self-confidence and struggling to stay afloat.

As the movie begins production, acclaimed director Sir Laurence Olivier becomes more and more frustrated with Marilyn’s late arrivals on set, emotional breakdowns and her ever-present acting coach Paula (Zoë Wanamaker). Meanwhile, Marilyn herself becomes less and less sure that she can pull off the part. Colin cannot help but fall for her, and fast, despite a budding romance with the wardrobe girl Lucy (Emma Watson). When Marilyn’s husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) takes off for New York, she sinks further down into despair. It is then that she takes a particular liking to Colin and he briefly becomes her companion and confidant.

Williams has won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her performance in this film, and it is instantly clear why this is so. As Marilyn, she is both a breathtaking icon and an insecure mess. She is all charm and charisma, creating a truly believable Monroe. The clothes, hair, face and smile are perfect and completely stunning. Yet at the same time, Williams beautifully portrays the vulnerability, naivety and sadness that entirely contradict her character’s public persona. The two very different sides to the star shown by Williams and this film make the legend seem almost human.

Williams has received much well deserved praise for her role, but she is not the only one who puts on a great performance. Kenneth Branagh also portrays an actor desperate to prove himself as Sir Laurence Olivier, and Dame Judy Dench is delightful as always as Dame Sybill Thorndike. This is a film that is filled with favourites, including Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, who is clever and quite un-Hermione-like in the role of Lucy.

After all the hype, the only letdown of the film is the ending. It seems like it was intended to be bittersweet, but comes off just a little bit lacklustre. This is in contrast to the exciting and beautifully shot beginning, showing a glittering Williams singing perfectly as Monroe. There is symmetry in beginning and ending with a song, but the first was definitely more exciting.

Having the mere mortal Colin as the narrator and guide through the world of Marilyn makes the film all the more likeable, because he himself is a warm and friendly character. Overall, it is a very pretty film in terms of locations, colour and cast. It is at once light and dark, perhaps reflecting the character of Marilyn herself. This film is as charming and intriguing as its title character, and Michelle Williams truly shines in a performance that is most definitely Oscar-worthy.

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