Colin Clark must have thought himself the luckiest man alive when he got to spend a week with Marilyn and Simon Curtis’s film does a fine job of putting it on screen for all the world to see.
Eddie Redmayne plays Colin, the youngest in a family who come from old stock and are quite happy to indulge him in his fantasy to become a director. Through some connections he manages to get a job as the third assistant director on Sir Laurence Olivier’s new film The Prince and the Showgirl. It is here that he falls in love with Marilyn and gets an insight into her anything but magical life. Feeling that he is the only one who truly understands her it is inevitable that loves first crush is going to hurt more than most.
The aforementioned Marilyn is played by the fantastic Michelle Williams showing that last years Blue Valentine wasn’t a once off. Her likeness to Monroe is uncanny and at times startling making you wonder are they using old footage. She gives the movie star a depth and humanity that summon sympathy from the viewer. Much is known of her predilection for pills and the troubled marriage to Arthur Millar, played here quite well by Dougray Scott, but Williams gives us an insight into the fragility and insecurity that plagued Monroe’s soul. A criticism could be that there is only the wounded and unsure Monroe on display and no real hint of the calculating and manipulative traits to her character that so many perceived to be present. It my view this is not the job of this particular film, perhaps for another more in-depth biography. The job at hand is to show how truly captivating Monroe was and how devastating she was to become for Colin Clark.
Redmayne delivers a perfect performance as the love struck youngster who has been swept away by the magic of the movies. He must think that he himself is in some fantastical movie for Marilyn the most famous woman in the world to be even aware of his presence. The unfolding of their relationship is delicately played out in the English countryside where Marilyn is residing for the duration of the shoot and the more he becomes entangled the tougher it is for him to let go. His innocence in thinking anything lasting can develop is complemented by Monroe’s yearning to be taken seriously as an actress and not just a “sexy” girl as Olivier put it.
There are some great supporting roles on display from Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, the brilliant actor hell-bent on becoming a film star, Toby Jones as Monroe’s publicist , Dame Judi Dench as the kindly older actress more than willing to give Marilyn a helping hand and Emma Watson puts in a small but noteworthy performance as she tries to cast off the shackles of Hermione.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this film but the performances from both the main characters and ensemble cast along with the brilliant authenticity of the period setting left me glad to have spent some time in Colin’s week.
Simon Curtis / Adrian Hodges / Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Dougray Scott, Emma Watson & Kenneth Branagh / 99 min / Drama / Release: 25 November 2011 (US/Canada/Irl/UK)