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Film / My Week with Marilyn

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During the Troubled Production of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957, assistant director Colin Clark became sort-of involved with Miss Monroe and wrote some memoirs about it years later. They are the basis for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark. Emma Watson also appears in a minor role.

This film provides examples of:

  • Advertised Extra: Emma Watson got prominent billing in the advertising, clearly hoping to draw in some of her Harry Potter fans. Lucy is a minor character who's mainly in the first act, disappears and then reappears briefly at the end.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: This is discussed in-universe between certain characters, some of which think that Marilyn is genuinely sweet and innocent, whilst others accuse her of knowing "exactly what she's doing" when she keeps everyone waiting for hours and runs off without telling anyone where she's going.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Monroe's performance is off in numerous occasions.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Majority opinion holds that Clark made up the story of his quasi-affair with Monroe. Most tellingly, Clark made no mention of it in a 1995 book about the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, not telling the story until he wrote another book five years later.
  • Beneath the Mask: Marilyn, "most people want Marilyn Monroe and when they see I'm not her they go away".
  • Betty and Veronica: Lucy is the Betty and Marilyn herself is the Veronica.
  • Brick Joke: Early on, the innkeeper of Dog & Duck pokes fun at Colin: "And, uh, hope you don't mind, you'll be sharing with Grace Kelly." In the end, he is flabbergasted when Marylin Monroe comes to visit Colin at his place.
  • Brutal Honesty: "[Your heart] needed to be broken."
  • Casting Gag:
    • Kenneth Branagh, hailed in his youth as a latter-day Laurence Olivier (mainly for directing and starring in his own Shakespeare epics as Olivier did), is cast as Laurence Olivier in this film.note 
    • Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh could also be considered this. After having starred in Sabrina (1995), the remake of the 1954 film, some reviews of that film hailed her as the next Vivien Leigh. In this film, she's playing Leigh herself.note 
  • Comforting Comforter: Colin does this for Marilyn.
  • Cool Old Lady: Dame Sybil is generous and kind to everyone, and even manages to help Marilyn under the guise of asking Marilyn to help her. It helps that she's played by Judi Dench, of course.
  • Film Within a Film: The movie depicts the making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
  • Gilligan Cut: Laurence Olivier suggests to keep the arrival of Marilyn low profile. Cut to the mayhem at the airport.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Marilyn, of course. Colin is a bit of a male example as well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Olivier is being an insensitive jerk to Marilyn Monroe, and doesn't "get" the Method Acting process. But Marilyn's diva-like behavior and erratic attendance make it understandable why he's so pissed off.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Inverted. Colin tries to "save" Marilyn from her crazy Hollywood life but she admits that she likes it, even though it drives her crazy.
  • Maybe Ever After: Colin and Lucy.
  • Method Acting: In-universe example with Marilyn, who engages a mentor to bring out her method acting abilities.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the original memoirs, the Emma Watson character is referred to only as "little Wdg", short for "little wardrobe girl". In the film, her name is Lucy Armstrong.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: In both his scenes, the barkeeper of the Dog & Duck's is fiddling around with a rag and glasses.
  • Oscar Bait
  • Poke the Poodle: Lucy's last words to Colin as Marilyn's final day on the set ends:
    Lucy: Did she break your heart?
    Colin: A little.
    Lucy: Good. It needed to be broken.
  • Precision F-Strike: There's six F-bombs scattered throughout, mainly spoken by Laurence Olivier.
  • Scenery Porn: Colin and Marilyn's visit to Windsor Castle and other sights are lavishly photographed.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Olivier, an old Shakespeare vet, has a habit of quoting The Tempest and other Shakespeare plays.
    • A little disturbing In-Universe when Olivier quotes Othello as he's quoting the passage where Othello decides to kill Desdemona. Easy guess on whose "Desdemona" in Olivier's mind.
  • Sidelong Glance Biopic: Let's face it... nobody went to see this movie to learn about Colin Clark.
  • Stepford Smiler: Subverted with Marilyn. While she is messed up inside, when she smiles she's genuinely happy.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Sir Laurence and Marilyn.
  • Wag the Director: In-Universe. Marilyn and her 'method acting' mentor cause a lot of tension with the director on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The movie ends with Marilyn singing a song while text overlay tells us what happened to her, Colin and Laurence after the film.
  • Woman Scorned: A very mild example in Lucy, who considers Colin's date with Marilyn as jilting her, never mind that Colin believed it accidental. What's the worst thing she does to him? Tell him flat out that his heart needed to be broken after learning that Marilyn did break his heart "a little".