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My Night With Marilyn and Michelle

I love Netflix; regardless of the price change that hiked up our monthly bill, they still succeed in getting my family streaming video and DVDs in the mail, saving us money in the long run by being able to skip the theater when a movie doesn’t seem too interesting or being able to skip a purchase when we’re not sure if we’ll be watching it more than once.  It does put us a bit behind, but I’m generally happy with our little arrangement.  Our most recent movie was My Week With Marilyn, a 2011 biographical film based off of Colin Clark’s book about his experience working with Marilyn Monroe.  Clark (Eddie Redmayne) travels to London to attempt to get a job on Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) latest film.  He eventually secures a job on Olivier’s latest film, The Prince And The Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).

Williams does a fantastic job of becoming Monroe; her voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms were extremely different from anything else I’ve seen her in.  I have to admit, I’ve never been all that interested in Monroe and don’t know too much about her, so my opinion that Williams was spot on may not be correct.  What I do know is that Williams fully captured Monroe’s essence on screen; you could not take her eyes off of her.  She was charming, vulnerable, sexy, and surprisingly innocent and somewhat shy at times.  Some moments would show her displaying total confidence and assertiveness while others had her acting almost broken, unsure of her skill and charm and as sensitive as a small child.

I was surprised to see the way Monroe’s acting technique was portrayed in the movie; her assistant was very controlling and Monroe would often show up late to rehearsals and filming, sometimes leaving the set abruptly due to mood changes.  She self medicates with various pills, causing her peers to be greatly concerned with her well being and state of mind.  Her new husband, annoyed by her behavior and the attention, leaves the location where they are filming to return home, causing Monroe to fall apart and latch on to Clark and making him her new rock.  The more time they spend together, the happier Monroe appears on set.

It’s not surprising that Clark falls in love with Monroe, despite the fact that she’s married and he’s been warned of her fleeting affections.  He is no doubt flattered with the attention and feels that the fact that he can make her happy has deep meaning.  He fails to properly notice that her happiness is still tainted by moments of depression and anguish, seeming to convince himself that he can fix it and fix her, eventually somehow resulting in a blossoming relationship.  Of course, at the end, she leaves with as much fanfare as she arrived.  The positive side is that Clark seems to be a better person because of his experience and does go on to be successful in the industry.

Taking on a role as big as Marilyn Monroe seems somewhat daunting and overwhelming; there is so much pressure to get it right and do the person justice in your portrayal.  My limited knowledge of Monroe definitely resulted in my belief that Williams nailed it, and I hope that die-hard Monroe fans would be able to say the same.  She stole the entire movie and was incredibly captivating, her raw emotion laid out bare for the audience for better and for worse.

My only issue with the movie is my curiosity over how accurate the story is.  Often, filmmakers take creative liberties and add things into a story to make it more interesting (in their opinion) and since the story itself is based on the observations and experiences of one person who was quite young at the time, it makes me wonder if we saw it more or less how it happened.  I do tend to think that Clark’s story is accurate; he obviously fell in love with her but still maintained credibility and didn’t try to hide Monroe’s faults.  Assuming the story wasn’t altered, it does seriously make me think about the type of person Monroe was.  There is definitely more there than I realized; more layers to her personality and more emotions hidden away behind those dark sunglasses than I knew she had.

If you saw this film, what did you think and were you a fan of Monroe, or at least knowledgeable about her life? 

I’m basically an ignorant viewer, so I’d love to hear feedback from someone who is a bit more informed on the real Marilyn Monroe.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on April 12, 2012, in TV/Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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