MY WEEK WITH MARILYN directed by Simon Curtis (UK, 2011)

This movie is based on Colin Clark’s memoir  ‘The Prince, The Showgirl And Me’  and tells the story of what happens when an Eton educated 23 year old toff seeks gainful employment in the glamorous world of movies.

Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne) is so hooked on all things cinematic that he is prepared to do the most menial tasks to get a foot in the door of the industry. He rises from tea boy and gofer to a role as the third assistant to the director on the 1957 film ‘The Prince And The Showgirl’ . This may not seem the most inspiring of jobs but since it involves working at close quarters with Sir Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe he’s not complaining.

Olivier is the archetype luvvie and is played to perfection by Kenneth Branagh – it takes one to know one.   ‘Larry’  is eager to prove that he can translate his theatrical achievements  to the big screen.

Marilyn is not a great actress but as one her American team points out “with tits like that you make allowances”.  Olivier is frequently exasperated with her unreliability and ineptitude (“it’s like teaching Urdu to a badger”) but is forced to concede that despite her lack of training or craft, she shines in front of the camera in a way he can only dream of.

MM finds an admirer in Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) but it is Clark she takes a particular fancy to. She adopts him as a  kind of lucky mascot and they become closer still  when her husband Arthur Miller leaves the set to return to America.

Clark is just the kind of  doe-eyed admirer she needs as she feels safe and uninhibited in his company,  For his part, he is in such awe of her mere presence that their relationship remains a curiously chaste one.  (Earlier we have seen him feeling up wardrobe assistant  Lucy (Emma Watson)  so we know he’s not gay).

When Marilyn goes  skinny dipping, he joins her but keeps his boxer shorts on; when she asks him to lie next to her in bed, he remains fully clothed.  The only thing that gets stiff here is his upper lip. You might praise this as a supreme act of self control but you can’t help wondering how many red-blooded males would do the same in his position.

Norma Jean says she just wants to be loved like a regular girl but is equally addicted to revelling in the larger than life persona of Marilyn.

Mchelle Williams makes a commendable stab at the role but, not surprisingly, her looks and natural charm are a pale imitation of the goddess-like qualities of the real-life Marilyn. Williams simply doesn’t have the luminous presence to convince us that she  would reduce men to tongue-tied slobbering wrecks.

With Simon Curtis at the helm, this movie is too sexed-down and slow-paced and we never really get the impression that he is interested in anything but the superficial aspects of the characters.

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