My Week with Marilyn – Art 1/5 Ent 2/5 Worth 2/5
This movie has two kinds of people I just simply do not care about: fanboys obsessed with some barbiturate queen because she’s a star, and barbiturate queens who are stars. I can only marginally comprehend how much of a sea change Marilyn’s public persona was for a nation starving for curvy bleached bimbos, but the way Eddie Redmayne is entranced by her in the beginning of My Week with Marilyn sure explains a lot. I don’t think this movie is telling any tales out of school, despite choosing as its reference point for a day in the life of Marilyn a somewhat suspect book by Redmayne’s real life character, the now real dead Colin Clark. Clark’s book is an explosively uninteresting tome about how he once met and hung out with the great Marilyn Monroe. I guess a re-make of Cliffhanger didn’t seem doable so the producers chose this instead.
Now, at the risk of sounding like I’m going through the motions for iconoclasm at this point, I really don’t ‘get’ Marilyn, or her seemingly misplaced aura in an age full of Marilyns and Super Marilyns. She wasn’t an interesting actor, at least no more than Elvis was. Her attachment to the ‘method’ and her handlers and enablers that make up her entourage are a pathetic sight unto itself. She didn’t really ‘do’ anything but make boys swoon, which is made light of by Laurence Olivier (of course played by Kenneth Branagh, his/Gielgud’s filmic heir). Marilyn wasn’t even that spectacular looking: indistinguishable from any other starlet and a lot less fun than Jayne Mansfield (church of satan? orgies? nip slips? no … we want icons!). The somewhat plain-looking but mightily talented Michelle Williams is fighting no uphill battles to slip into her fuzzy slippers. The main attraction seems to be her vulnerability. As a guy it just seems kind of gross that our mentality in terms of finding mates shares properties with how bears hunt caribou – one trip over a log and we get excited. Everyone knows Marilyn’s painful and abusive upbringing, and how women like that have to cope daily as if they’re cursed for life. Williams’ sharp portrayal of that is the entirety of this film’s merit.
But so many other films have been done on Marilyn and exactly that past that I just don’t get what’s new or groundbreaking here, to warrant making another movie about it. That is to say, other than a lot of creative people just got bored and decided to pick up some “hey everyone, I stuffed Marilyn! Wooo!” book and made it into a movie. There really is nothing to be had here. Redmayne always looks like a kid strung out on some methamphetamine, and the Harry Potter girl serves as some sort of contrast to remind us that regular girls and real life just aren’t as fun as the few hours the muse Marilyn grants you. It’s a wonder Joe DiMaggio cried himself to sleep for decades.