DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 23, 2011 (limited)
Rating: R (for some language)
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 99 min.
Director: Simon Curtis
Actors: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper, Dougray Scott, Zoe Wanamaker, Toby Jones

Marilyn Monroe was many things: a movie star, a singer, a sex symbol. But was she a great actress? Film historians and fans have been debating that question for years, but the new film My Week with Marilyn sides with the “great actress” camp.

The movie is based on Colin Clark’s memories of a week not recounted in an earlier book (The Prince, the Showgirl and Me) about his experiences working on the set of the Lawrence Olivier-directed film The Prince and Showgirl. My Week with Marilyn is at times a breezy, morose and ultimately inconsequential account of the troubled actress and the young assistant director who fell under her spell during production.

Eddie Redmayne (The Yellow Handkerchief) is Colin Clark, a persistent go-getter who, hoping to break into movies, lands a gig on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl as third assistant director.

Directed by and starring Olivier (Kenneth Branagh, Valkyrie), The Prince and the Showgirl had the added star wattage of Monroe (Michelle Williams, Meek’s Cutoff), but the film’s production was close to disastrous. Monroe arrived with an acting coach (Zoe Wanamaker) enamored with “the method.” Needless to say, Monroe was no Marlon Brando in the method-acting department. Olivier’s insistence that method-acting is appropriate for practice but not on the set is met with resistance by Monroe’s entourage. Olivier’s skepticism about the actress’ abilities only grows after she flubs her early scenes.

Although the world is captivated by Monroe’s beauty, she’s unable to meet the most basic demands of her profession, forgetting her lines and becoming the butt of jokes by the director and crew. Trying to teach Monroe to act, Olivier concludes, is like “trying to teach Urdu to a badger.”

The actress is soon hiding in her room and taking too many pills to cope with the disappointment she senses in others. But it’s not only on the set where Monroe senses trouble. Her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott)—her third, his second—is not going well. “I can’t work, I can’t think,” Miller tells Olivier. “She’s devouring me.”

Monroe finds her own confidant in Colin, who, while the film’s resentful crew stews, whisks her away from the set for a quick reprieve from the pressures of the film. But she can’t escape her woes—marital or otherwise.