My Week with Marilyn

Wednesday November 23rd 2011

My Week with Marilyn is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most British film since The King’s Speech, and it’s pitched at roughly the same audience: the mums, dads and Jan Moir readers that also ensure a new series of Doc Martin will never go unwatched. I hope that doesn’t sound like a criticism: Doc Martin‘s fucking awesome.

The film tells the story of Colin Clark, a rarrrthurr posh young chap who abandons the privileges of his upbringing in order to pursue an uncertain career in filmmaking. Despite his father’s assurances that THE FILM INDUSTRY IS MADE OF MAGICAL BEANS AND TRANSPARENT GINGERBREAD AND IT WILL TAKE YOU NOWHERE, Clark soon lands work as an assistant director on the set of Laurence Olivier’s The Prince and the Showgirl, where he meets famous-movie-star-you’ve-probably-heard-of Marilyn Monroe.

The cast list is a veritable telephone directory of British acting talent, which lends the film an air of authenticity but also makes it feel a bit like a collection of deleted scenes from the Harry Potter movies. I for one had no idea that Marilyn Monroe was directed by Gilderoy Lockhart, dressed by Hermione Granger, publicised by Dobby the House Elf and coached by Madame Hooch.

Oh, and Derek Jacobi has a scene. Obviously.

Like much of Jacobi’s recent work however, My Week with Marilyn is a little too hopped up on biopic cliches to say anything particularly interesting or even coherent. It has plenty of fun little scenes and ace performances (I didn’t even mention The Dench! Oh my lord The Dench … ) but the film still feels the need to fall back on BOOKENDED NARRATION, GRATUITOUS FACT-DROPPING and POINTLESS EPILOGUE INTERTITLES to satisfy its perceived audience of ultra-casual viewers.

So, much like The King’s Speech, it’s a formulaic but reasonably satisfying little biopic that might make for decent Boxing Day viewing. How about we don’t give this one Best Picture?