This is a nearly solid British film documenting the filming of a movie of two greats coming together, one a highly talented British thesp and the other a screen icon of America and the world. It’s a good little biopic about Marilyn Monroe and you sense the idea of her fear and yet glee in discovering what England has to offer.
Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is known for her blonde bombshell looks and her skill to entice audiences by having a way with the camera but she’s also known for her difficulty to work with on set, especially in her latter years. This film dramatises this aspect of Monroe in her trepidation to act in a Laurence Olivier picture. At first glance this movie comes across as very British and quaint but it’s past this that you find a more upsetting and darker theme of Monroe in general and the things she has to go through. She charms men all over without even needing to try, it’s sad that she makes them fall in love with her when she doesn’t necessarily do much to make this happen, though in the case of Eddie Redmayne’s character she does a lot to make him fall for her. Also she’s typecast and she’s venturing into an alien environment of the UK and playing a part once played by the directors wife, there’s constant pressure for her and this comes across in the all too worrying moments of her taking different pills, knowing what happened to her it’s an incredible sense of foreshadowing in thinking this life she has drives her over the edge.
Michelle Williams plays the iconic woman with grace, sultriness and confidence. There’s more than a few moments where you believe you’re watching the real deal. The time in the film where “she says shall I be her” is one that firstly shows how great Williams is in parading around like the incredibly sexy star and secondly it demonstrates another issue of Monroe’s perception as she just switches the charm on like it’s a character, which in a way it is as she had been plucked and pulled apart by the Hollywood system to become Marilyn and no longer be the brunette Norma Jeane. It’s a captivating performance by Williams that makes you find Monroe infuriating, hypnotising, funny and mostly sympathetic. You feel sorry for her in the way she’s trying to do good, sure she turns up late, has an acting coach that uses Method as some excuse for her behaviour and the way she leads Colin (Redmayne) on but by the end she rectifies it all by pulling off a great performance for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’, apologising in her way and going to the effort to meet Colin in a shoddy pub to say goodbye. The best part of the film and her performance as Monroe is the innocent way of her running through the field and taking a dip in the river, this is when it feels most like the girl she was before she became Marilyn Monroe.
Eddie Redmayne is great as the other leading role in his journey from the country to the city and his fascination with film paying off big time in working on this specific film and having a tiny relationship with Marilyn. You feel bad for him knowing it won’t last and in the same way it’s a trip of emotions that he did deserve as Emma Watson’s character says because he did have the chance to go out with her instead but messed it up by falling head over heels in love with this dreamy enigma.
The only problem is this film doesn’t reach the sort of territory of feeling like a high class period piece, like in the way of ‘The Kings Speech’, it comes across as a movie that feels like it’s place should be that of a TV film. Also Monroe is a figure of the silver screen that we all know about (hopefully) and there’s nothing that much in this film that we don’t know about, we know she had inner demons and that she was difficult to work with. The only aspect I didn’t know was about Colin’s motivation to become known in the world of cinema and the relationship he had with Monroe.
It’s an interesting drama that focuses on Monroe and her ups and downs and it really feels real in the way that you go on a journey through the making of this film with her and Colin Clark. A truly sad and bleak film if you really think about it in it’s highlighting the troubles of Marilyn’s life and career and the pressures she faces in front and behind the camera.