Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I Saw: My Week With Marilyn

What I Saw:   My Week With Marilyn

I started to write this review in a way that looked at deep epistemological questions about identity. What different masks do we wear for our co-workers, friends, parents, children or lovers? Do we really know any of these people outside of the roles they play in our lives and the characters they project to us? Is this why the holidays can sometimes feel so exhausting, because we are forced to play a character that we aren’t used to playing? How is this compounded if you are an international celebrity, required to put up the same front for everyone, everywhere that you go?

But each time I started down this path, I found that all I really wanted to do was praise Michelle Williams’ performance. She completely embodies the characteristics of Marilyn Monroe... Or at least, what I imagine Marilyn Monroe to be... Or perhaps, the character that Monroe worked so hard to make me believe that she is... Or at least make me want to believe that she is...

Which draws me back to the questions of identity, and the plot constructions that make the film more than a collection of mimicked smiles and seductive catch-phrases. The very structure of the film, told through Eddie Redmayne’s character, invites us to imagine that we are seeing a more truthful side of Marilyn than the rest of the world gets to see. It utilizes his sense of nostalgia and infatuation to evoke a positive assessment of her authenticity, just as memory and love can blur our impressions of those in our real lives. The film elicits an almost evolutionary response to the outward trappings of vulnerability, even as the other characters warn that such trappings may be mere manipulations.

These questions of identity take on an additional dimension when viewed within their historical context. Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench play the roles of Laurence Olivier and Sybil Thorndike, here portrayed as struggling to make the transition from the theater to the big screen, and from playing a character on stage to being a character for public display. And in some ways, that historical transition that hit Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe has parallels today, as we shift to a world of cyber-connectedness and the exhausting need to present a consistent, professional face in every conceivable context. If all the world is indeed a stage, we may find ourselves longing for an intermission.

As I did with Hugo and The Artist, this seems like a good time to provide some resources for those who are inspired to learn more about the two Marilyn Monroe films that are featured within My Week With Marilyn, courtesy of my fellow bloggers at The LAMB:

You can find reviews of The Prince And The Showgirl at I Think Therefore I Review, and Wide Screen World,

You can find reviews of Some Like It Hot at The 1000 Movie Journey, Being Norma Jeane, Bette’s Classic Movie Blog, Forever Classics, I Think Therefore I Review, Movie Dame, Movie Dearest, Only The Cinema, Twenty Four Frames, and Wide Screen World.

Oscar Chances:

Lead Actress: Michelle Williams (currently ranked 4. I think she is guaranteed for a nomination)
Supporting Actor: Kenneth Branagh (currently ranked 4)
Costume Design: Jill Taylor (currently ranked 7)
Art Direction: Donald Woods and Judy Farr (currently ranked 8)
Makeup (currently ranked 9)
Best Picture (currently ranked 16)
Adapted Screenplay: Adrian Hodges (currently ranked 16)
Supporting Actress: Judi Dench (currently ranked 20)
Best Director: Simon Curtis (currently ranked 22)
Cinematography: Ben Smithard (currently ranked 25)
Original Score: Conrad Pope (currently ranked 37)
Lead Actor: Eddie Redmayne (currently ranked 43)
Supporting Actress: Julia Ormond (currently ranked 48)
Film Editing: Adam Recht (currently ranked 49)
Sound Editing (currently ranked 35)
Sound Mixing (currently ranked 47)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!

My Lamb Score: 4 ½ out of 5 Lambs
What is a lamb score? Click HERE to learn more.
Read more of my reviews HERE.


  1. Big score, it's looking more and more like MW will get a nod.

  2. @Bonjour Tristesse, Indeed! I really enjoyed this film, because I was totally able to go along and fall in love with her. Williams is fantastic and is guaranteed a nomination in my opinion. Her performance is good enough to possibly win too, although I think that Viola Davis will have the stronger campaign story.

  3. Wow you really liked this, didn't you? :) The Academy loves Michelle Williams so I wouldn't be surprised if she gets another nod. However, the movie itself likely won't cut it by a wide margin.

  4. @Castor, Yeah, I sure did. Something about the romantic nostalgia of it really won me over, along with the great performance.