Blu-ray Review: My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis | CAST: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormand, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Dougray Scott
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 3/13/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.9
BONUSES: featurette, commentary
SPECS: R | 99 min. | Biography | 2.35:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish subtitle

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Michelle Williams’ (Shutter Island) performance — or should I say embodiment — of Marilyn Monroe is the reason to watch My Week With Marilyn.

Based on the memoir by Colin Clark, the biography movie looks at a week in the life of Monroe when she was shooting The Prince and the Showgirl in England. Insecure and in need of comfort, Marilyn latches onto young Colin (Eddie Redmayne, Black Death), who’s in his first job in the movies as assistant director — lackey — to director and co-star Kenneth Branagh (Thor).

My Week With Marilyn

Marilyn’s hypnotic attention quickly sucks in Colin, who also has his eyes set on the costume lady (Emma Watson, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), and his focus turns away from the movie business to wanting to save the star from her celebrity status.

Although the other actors in the film are great, especially Judi Dench (J. Edgar) as the wonderfully supportive Dame Sybil Thorndike, Michelle’s Marilyn is luminous, just like the real Marilyn was in her films. But My Week With Marilyn doesn’t paint the star in the nicest light. Drugged up, terrified to act and convinced everyone’s out to get her, Marilyn is like a grown-up child. And in the moments when she retreats to Norma Jeane then blooms back into Marilyn, Williams is at her best.

Both Williams and Branagh were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances, but neither won. Williams definitely deserved a statue.

The film’s story, while interesting, is more lackluster. We don’t care as much about Colin than about Marilyn, but it is Colin’s story. Still, there’s enough here to keep viewers entertained for the 99-minute running time.

The Blu-ray presentation is fine, with the English countryside settings glowing and Williams’ voice — yes, that was her singing — filling the speakers.

The special features list is brief, with just a featurette and commentary. The most interesting part of the featurette, “The Untold Story of an American Icon,” has the actors talking about their impressions of the real Marilyn and the other stars portrayed in the film. Williams reveals that she grew up with a picture of Marilyn as a happy girl on her wall. But the piece feels more like a promotion for the movie than an extension.

Director Simon Curtis, who helmed his first feature film with this movie, starts slow with his commentary, but he soon gets the swing of it, telling us enthusiastically that the enormous mansion of a home used for Colin’s parents really was the house of the real Colin Clark’s parents. Curtis keeps up his pace, much of the time just repeating the action of the movie, but occassionally giving some good tidbits, such as the fact that all of Dench’s scenes had to be filmed months before the others, with the different angles in the same scene shot months apart.

Kudos to Anchor Bay for one nifty meny item: Instead of displaying a disclaimer about the commentary when the disc starts, the menu pops up a window with the disclaimer when the commentary is chosen, then offers the choice of “Back” or “Proceed,” so users don’t have to then go back to the menu and press play on the movie. This is the best way of doing this, and we hope other studios will copy it.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.