Based on the memoir by Colin Clark, My Week with Marilyn tells of his brief affair with Marilyn Monroe, during her visit to England in 1956, when she came to film The Prince and the Showgirl. As the third assistant to the director during the film's making, Clark was by no means a part of Hollywood royalty, making My Week with Marilyn a tale of unlikely romance between two polar opposites. In fact, the story was kept quiet by Clark until he released his memoir in 2000, and he died just just two years after it was published.
The film opens with young Clark, an eager Oxford graduate, looking for his first job in the film industry, much to the disapproval of his high-achieving family. Determination and persistence land him a place at Laurence Olivier Productions, where they begin shooting Olivier’s first film, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe. Her highly-anticipated arrival sees swarms of press on the runway at London Heathrow, as she steps out of her private plane, her distinctive halo of platinum locks hovering above the crowds. With just one wink from behind her seductively tipped sunglasses, Monroe takes England by storm.
Elegantly sweeping through the masses, Monroe uses her quick wit to deal with prying journalists, showing her as the strong, confident icon we all know her to be. That is, until we see her later on set, when the Monroe façade begins to crumble. With Clark, we begin to discover another side to Monroe; the terrible loneliness, her crippling insecurities, strings of failed marriage, and dependency on prescription drugs.
Monroe begins to take a liking to Clark, and a relationship begin blossoms between the two. Through her romance with Clark, Monroe is allowed to escape the media spotlight for a brief time and discover something all together more real. By watching the affair unfold, you too start to fall under the Monroe spell. As the film continues, you also begin to question which life Monroe really wants.
The film as a whole is charming representation of 1950s Britain, with beautifully shot scenes across the English countryside, alongside an incredibly accurate cast. Michelle Williams plays the role of Monroe almost flawlessly, whilst Kenneth Branagh could not suit the part of pompous Olivier more. Even the costumes are exact representations of the original attire worn by Monroe in 1956.
If you have come to watch My Week with Marilyn with the hope of discovering an unknown side to the life of the infamous icon, you may be disappointed to find there is nothing ground-breakingly revelatory about this film. However, it proves to be funny, charming and quick-paced, with enough British wit to keep it from becoming too slushily romantic.
Watch if… you are looking for a British romantic comedy with a healthy dose of 1950s glamour
Avoid if… you want a more deep and meaningful representation of Monroe, you won't find it here.
My Week with Marilyn is showing at the New Picture House, St Andrews daily this week at 6.10pm and 8.25pm. To view the trailer, click here.