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My Week with Marilyn (DQ)


Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper, Emma Watson, Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Toby Jones, Michael Kitchen, Jim Carter, Zoe Wanamaker, Simon Russell Beale

Director: Simon Curtis

A rather touching re-creation of Colin Clark's affectionate, if slightly rose-coloured memoir of his time with Marilyn Monroe during the shooting of Laurence Olivier's film The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956.

The son of wealthy parents, but determined to make his own way in life, Colin (a nicely ingenuous Redmayne), looking to break into films, manages by sheer dogged persistence to wangle his way on to the film as third assistant director, or gofer (we never see the first or second assistants).

Marilyn (Williams) arrives from Hollywood with new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Scott) in tow, and has soon rubbed short-fused perfectionist Olivier (Branagh, more like the real thing than you could have imagined) up the wrong way with her neuroses, insecurities and late arrivals. Colin, however, is besotted, and has soon transferred his attentions from wardrobe assistant Lucy (Watson, unexpectedly good if underused) to Marilyn herself, who conducts a teasing, semi-innocent romance with him once Miller has disappeared from the scene.

Meanwhile Olivier, whose wife Vivien Leigh (Ormond) envies Marilyn her youth, is exasperated, metaphorically tearing out his hair. 'Trying to teach Marilyn to act,' he exclaims, 'is like trying to teach Urdu to a badger.' Colin, though, gets it right when he tells Marilyn that Olivier is a great actor trying to be a star, whereas she's a star trying to be a great actress.

Williams' portrait of Marilyn not only seems accurate both in detail and personality, but manages to be affecting as well. Reflecting what Rita Hayworth once said, she bewails 'Why do the people I love always leave me. All they see is Marilyn Monroe. Soon as they realise she's not me, they run...

David Quinlan

UK 2011. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Technicolor.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 19 Nov 2011