Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Week With Marilyn (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

My Week with Marilyn

Va-va-voom! The much anticipated film "My Week with Marilyn" has arrived at The Tropic. It is a fitting  affectionate biopic about the legendary star that is sure to please both passing and hardcore fans, even if it does not offer much pathos.

The film centers on the apparently tense filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl". We see Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) as an impatient control freak, vexed and almost driven to hysterics by the volatility of Marilyn, played here with compelling heart and verve by the spunky Michelle Williams. Branagh's performance almost reaches high comedy as Marilyn keeps missing her lines. As Branagh says in his role, trying to get Marilyn to comprehend her part is like "teaching Urdu to a badger". Olivier in the film is like a frustrated schoolteacher trying to keep fifth graders from distractions and it never works. His annoyance is so one-sided that it comes off as a cartoon.

Michelle Williams as Marilyn is far more interesting than Branagh. Her Marilyn is a vulnerable snow leopard trapped within the confines of a Technicolor movie screen. The horizontal lines that the screen create may as well be a cage enclosing a creature, at once animalistic and artificial, dripping with light. 

In accordance with the memoir on which the film is based, a young assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne)  becomes infatuated with the bombshell. Although he holds his own, Redmayne is a bit like Clark Kent, all nervousness with eyes agog. But then again, this is Marilyn Monroe. Her cadmium red kisses move mountains of men.

The setting of  England makes for provocative viewing : The green-gray and brown interiors in the film  wobble in surreal contrast to Williams' sizzling bright glare as Marilyn. She is a silver space traveller visiting a monochrome and monotone earth. The brown pints of beer seem to clash in her white-on-white palms.. The main anchor of the film is Williams alone. Through her motion  and voice, Marilyn is both an all too human sprite, mercurial and  spacey and a spectral siren--a living body of Pop Art. Sadly, no matter what "Marilyn" she happens to be at any given moment, flashbulbs relentlessly pop at her like  grenades. 

The end result of  "The Prince and the Showgirl" proved tepid. The 1957 film  was dealt a blow of weak reviews despite the star power of its players. All three figures, Monroe, Olivier and Clark went on to better things. 

At the conclusion of "My Week with Marilyn" it is clear that England was briefly touched with a fleeting burst of color, a voluptual flare only to have things resume in uniformity once the dazzling rocket returns to her home  orbit.

Write Ian at redtv_2005@yahoo.com

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