My week with Marilyn (2011)

my_week_with_marilyn_2011_5551_posterThere’s a not so funny line in this movie which stays with you afterwards. In some other occasion I don’t think I would have mentioned it at all. In this instance though, I find it much more interesting than it probably deserves. There’s so few points of interest in this movie that one starts to grasp for straws. Mind you, it really isn’t a straw but it’s so detached from the movie itself that it sure looks like one. You know the usual routine of biopics? The what happened afterwards part of the movie which usually brings some kind of closure for these characters that we just witnessed moving and breathing in a celluloid haze. My week with Marilyn has one of those too. In a rather inconspicuous lettering there’s a line that goes something like this: “Collin Clark became award-winning documentary filmmaker. He became internationally famous in the ‘90s after publishing his diary depicting a production of The Prince and the Showgirl.” I forgot the exact words but as you might have noticed by now, exact words don’t really matter. The spirit of the original is present in these as well.

vlcsnap-2014-06-25-22h34m50s44  What we have here is the ultimate rebuttal of a subtext that goes beneath this obvious crowd-pleasing infatuation with Marilyn Monroe (which is what this movie, ultimately, is all about). Throughout the film Adrian Hodges (scriptwriter) builds Collin’s character as an intelligent, yet a bit naïve boy who, more than anything in the world, wants to be a part of the moviemaking process. “Fuck the Marilyn; she’s just a star”, subtext goes, “real magic is film itself”. Collin will remain truthful to his youthful love, despite everything that has happened. He will cast aside cynicism of the experienced and will remain faithful to a romantic notion of films and their production. Funny how things sometimes coincide. My week with Marilyn came out same year as The Artist and Hugo, both of them heavily laden with romantic nostalgia of the same kind.

Anyhow, at some point the movie ends and so does the life of our Collin. We can only presume that his attitude remained the same. Presuming this we come to this conclusion. There was a guy who was in love with movies. He wanted badly to work on them, to create lasting moving images, to be a part of the process that gave birth to the most important media of the last century. He met with Marilyn Monroe sometime during the ‘50s. This came and went and he continued to make documentaries for most of his waking hours. His entire career is then summarized with this – your work doesn’t matter; to become internationally famous (this isn’t the same as wildly acclaimed) you have to meet a star (preferably a sex icon) and, at some point, write about that meeting. Fuck everything that you ever did. This is all that matters in life. There’s a nutshell of filmmaking right there dear Collin. Hope your grave is comfy enough so that you have plenty of room to turn in it. I know I would.

vlcsnap-2014-06-25-22h34m41s225Come to think of it, what the hell do I know? As far as I can tell from this movie, our Collin wasn’t the brightest chap in class. If I presume that Hodges’ adaptation of Collin’s diary is accurate (though I really don’t have any reason to assume something like that, considering everything that has been said), that all I can read from it is that My week with Marilyn is derived from the almost too idiotic notion to mention – “I spent one week with an American superstar and I was the only one who really understood her; everyone else, before or after, didn’t even come close to this profound understanding that I have magically acquired.”

I could go on and on because, basically, this movie pissed me but I think I ranted enough already. Few more tidbits are required though. Though I really like Michelle Williams as an actress (ever since Dawson’s Crack) she wasn’t the best woman for the job here. Oh, she mastered Marilyn’s body language, she studied the moves, did her homework and all that but – and this is very important for anyone who wants to “be” Marilyn Monroe – she lacked presence. You could see people turning their heads when she would make an entrance, but they turned them because it said so in the script, not because Williams made them do so. Apart from that, direction was average at best. One could picture Curtis’ style as something appropriate for small television dramas that Brits have always been very fond of. All in all, My week with Marilyn was a giant waste of time. Something like writing this blog, only vastly more expensive and ambitious.

Directed by Simon Curtis
Produced by David Parfitt
Harvey Weinstein
Screenplay by Adrian Hodges
Based on The Prince, The Showgirl and Me and My Week with Marilyn
by Colin Clark
Starring Michelle Williams
Kenneth Branagh
Eddie Redmayne
Emma Watson
Judi Dench
Music by Conrad Pope
Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Ben Smithard
Edited by Adam Recht
The Weinstein Company
BBC Films
LipSync Productions
Trademark Films

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