In this entertaining and engaging film, Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl. It really does concern the events of one week (although they seem to be typical and exemplary of a much greater timespan), allowing director Simon Curtis to maintain a tight focus and avoid the rambling pitfalls of many a biopic.
|Eddie Redmayne is charming and fresh as the besotted Colin Clark|
She particularly shines among the ‘common people’ – at Eton or the local pub, where she tells the landlord, “Nice place you’ve got here”. It is enough to warm his soul and he would dine out on such a chance remark for years. She knows it, but she can afford to be generous with her winsome smile.
|"Shall I be Her?"|
Marilyn grew up in other people’s homes with her own mother in an asylum. She doesn’t know who her father is and seeks approval from the establishment who are smitten with her sex appeal although they don’t much care for her personality. Her current husband, Arthur Miller (played with assured nonchalance by Dougray Scott) complains, “I can’t work; I can’t think; she’s devouring me” and he leaves her to return to America, which threatens to tip her into suicidal despair. Green explains, “You don’t leave Marilyn alone. She thinks everyone’s abandoned her”, and she questions through a drug-induced haze, “Why do the people I love always leave me?”
|Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe|
|"Did she break your heart? Just a little bit? Good, it needed breaking." - Emma Watson as Lucy considers her 'rival'|
|Kenneth does Larry|
Marilyn persists with acting coaching from the brilliantly bristling Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker) although Olivier fumes, “Trying to teach Marilyn to act is like trying to teach Urdu to a badger.” Larry doesn’t like method acting; it’s new and it frightens him. Marilyn is the future, which makes him feel threatened. When he removes his make-up before the mirror, he reveals the man beneath the actor, admitting that he wanted to feel young again by working with her, but “when I look at that magnificent face, all I see is my own inadequacy.”
Vivian Leigh (Julia Ormonde), Olivier’s wife and remarkable actress in her own right, is 40, which is too old to play on screen what she can on stage. She sweeps into rehearsals to dispense benedictions but also to check on her competition. Marilyn is 30. Hollywood demands young women, although hypocritically dominated by older men.
There is much warmth and generosity of spirit (and acting) in the film, but none more so than from the simply spectacular Dame Judi Dench. Who could possibly want a greater mentor than her or her character, Dame Sybil Thorndike? She makes excuses for the forgetful and stumbling Marilyn, always has a gentle word to ease her into the situation, and commiserates with Colin's infatuation pains. She also becomes embroiled in a stand-off between union members (over whose job it is to move a chair), which she calms by reminding us, “If the unions fall out, only the management benefits”. She is clearly on the side of us; the workers.
|The ever-fabulous Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike|