<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson, Judi Dench.
Based on a true story, the film gives you a glimpse into the psyche of America’s enigmatic sex symbol and a young man’s brief romantic encounter with the ‘greatest star of all time’.
“Only the public can make a star. It’s the studios who try to make a system out of it.”
That’s what Marilyn said and the star that was perceived as ditsy by some was bang on. This was one blonde who didn’t fit the stereotype. Oh yes she was difficult to deal with, had tantrums and affairs, was insecure and finally died at the age of 36 apparently due to an overdose (though there are conspiracy theories to the contrary), but she often had a keen insight into what was happening around her.
The events featured in this film take place in the 1950s during the shooting of the movie The Prince and the Showgirl at Pinewood Studios in England. The director and actor of the movie was legendary actor, producer, director Sir Laurence Olivier who thought it would be delightful to do a film with the sexy Monroe. Little did he know what he was bargaining for.
In any case, while in England, Marilyn, newly married to playwright Arthur Miller, meets third assistant director Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who has by dint of determination become quite invaluable to Sir Olivier and his production company. And soon, he becomes quite invaluable to Miss Monroe as well.
For one week, as she shows up late for shooting, much to Olivier’s chagrin, she struggles with demons, addiction to medication and claustrophobia. But strapping young Colin provides just the right escape her inner child desires and he’s all too happy to prance around the countryside with her. Even though he’s been suitably warned that his little heart will be broken shortly. Well worth it if only to be skinny dipping in a lake with Marilyn Monroe eh!
Now a lot of people may not identify with Michelle Williams as Marilyn, one because she doesn’t look much like her and two because she doesn’t exude as much sex appeal as you’d imagine Monroe would have had. But Williams does a fine job of giving us the essence of what made up Marilyn Monroe: a smart cookie, who would play innocent and insecure but secretly knew what she was doing.
Eddie Redmayne is convincing. Emma Watson does a better job in this small role as Colin’s second-best love interest than Daniel Radcliffe did in The Woman In Black. Judi Dench as Marilyn’s co-actor, staunch supporter and mother-figure is solid and fun. But Kenneth Branagh’s performance is truly the masterwork of the film.
While her antics on set and the subsequent frustrations caused are amply covered you never quite get why there is a latent admiration for Monroe’s acting abilities, at least not from this film. For that you’ll have to watch Some Like It Hot.