My Week with Marilyn (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 21-Jun-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Biography Featurette-Making Of-(19:08) The Untold Story of an American Icon : 1080p.
Audio Commentary-Feature length with director Simon Curtis
Theatrical Trailer-(2:22) The Lady : 2.35:1, 1080p.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:25) Mirror, Mirror :1.78:1 : 1080p.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:27) Dark Shadows : 1.78:1 : 1080p.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 98:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Simon Curtis
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michelle Williams
Eddie Redmayne
Julia Ormond
Kenneth Branagh
Dominic Cooper
Emma Watson
Geraldine Somerville
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Conrad Pope
Alexandre Desplat


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (96Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, No credits at beginning of film.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The old cliché of the person who needs no introduction applies to the subject of this movie. All we need is one word : Marilyn.

     When Monroe made her initial impact on the public I was just in my teens. I barely remember Scudda Hoo, Scudda Hay and I was too young to appreciate The Asphalt Jungle in its initial release, but I do vividly remember the shapely corseted chorine in the western semi-musical Two Tickets to Tomahawk. Soon she was the new "Foxy blonde" - in the footsteps of Alice Faye, Betty Grable and June Haver - and by the time she fully exploded in Don't Bother to Knock, Niagara and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she was the one and only "MM", or simply "Marilyn" - and has remained so ever since.

     This new film is concerned with the star some four years after she first sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend". She had become head of her own production company and was determined to be recognized as a serious actress. Any doubts about her ability were to be silenced once and for all in 1956 with the glorious Bus Stop, but in 1954 Marilyn had yet to prove herself in serious acting company. She and her new husband, successful and honoured playwright Arthur Miller, went to England for the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl, which was to be the screen adaptation of the 1953 play The Sleeping Prince, written by leading English dramatist Terrence Rattigan, famed for The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, The Deep Blue Sea, and Separate Tables amongst others. The stage production had starred Laurence Olivier and, his then wife, Vivien Leigh, and Olivier was to repeat his role in the film. Miss Leigh, by now forty, was considered too old for the role on film, and regardless, Marilyn owned the rights. So, the emotionally and professionally insecure star is facing the Oliviers, the British press and the cinema intelligentsia as she tries to create "Miss Elsie" for the camera. In the midst of these tensions, the star is befriended by a young man working behind the camera and it is this relationship that is the stuff of the film.

     The great and welcome surprise of My Week with Marilyn is that it is a gentle, delightful, lovely film. It is as sweet and sensitive as the persona of Marilyn Monroe on screen. No character is treated harshly. At first we expect Olivier to be the baddie, but then we are made to sympathise, possibly empathise, with his problems. Olivier was fifty and dealing with his own professional demons, as well as a crumbling marriage to his beautiful and troubled Vivien. So, the film's baddie must be drama coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), the darkly ominous woman in Marily's entourage. Wrong again. There are no "baddies" in this film. There is compassion throughout. Performances by those playing the other icons are excellent, with only Toby Jones falling short with his deplorable attempt at an American accent, and Julia Ormond drab in her physical representation of Vivien Leigh, possibly the most beautiful woman ever to walk in front of a movie camera. (I stood three feet away from the incomparable Vivien during a lengthy press conference at Sydney Airport in 1961 and she was still breathtaking in her late forties.) Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike is at her warm and generous best, while Kenneth Branagh as Olivier makes up for all that hamming he has been doing for years. Dominic Cooper is fine as Marilyn's business partner Milton Green while Dougray Scott is a physically convincing Arthur Miller. A particular delight is Emma Watson, of the Harry Potter films, as Lucy, the young studio wardrobe girl attracted to the smitten Colin. Which leaves the two stars.

     This story is told through the eyes of twenty-four year old Colin Clark, a film student making his entrance to filmmaking by starting as Olivier's "gopher", generously titled "third assistant director", on the production. Clark published two books based on these experiences, one a diary and the other a memoir depicting his alleged affair with the just slightly older Hollywood star. There is not one scene in the film that does not include Colin Clark, and Eddie Redmayne (TV's Pillars of the Earth) is wonderful in every last one. All the excitement of his contact with these icons of theatre and film and the wonder at encountering the most famous woman in the world shine from the face of this gifted actor. Many critics have virtually ignored Redmayne's contribution to the film, but for me he is absolutely award worthy. Kenneth Branagh, in the "making of" extra, describes Redmayne's "beautiful, innocent fairy-tale eyes" in the film, and it is so right that these are the eyes through which we see the story.

     None of these comments diminish the performance of Michelle Williams. She is astonishing. Naturally nowhere near the physical glory that was MM, she totally embodies her , as well as beautifully capturing the complexity and fragility of the woman. Some of the recreations of famous scenes are jaw-droppingly accurate, particularly the arrival of the star and her husband in Britain. At other times the director has chosen to reproduce remembered images of Marilyn in unaccustomed settings. An example of this occurs when a naked Michelle Williams peeks flirtatiously over the rim of her bathtub at young Colin. Williams looks exactly as Marilyn did when captured peeking over the edge of the pool in the famous nude swimming scene from her last, unfinished film, Something's Got to Give. That was a brilliant decision. As was the staging of the Monroe songs, very different from the originals, but totally right. The exception here is the song from The Prince and the Showgirl, where Michelle Williams miraculously recreates what is forever, thankfully, contained in the original film.

     Directing his first cinematic feature, Simon Curtis does not make on phony step. This film is obviously a labour of love, love for the subject and for the process of movie making itself. The film looks beautiful, photographed with style and simplicity by Ben Smithard (The Damned United), and the original music by Conrad Pope (The Presence) had me ordering the soundtrack CD the next day. Also featured is music from the period, with excellent use of vocals by Dean Martin and Nat "King" Cole. In addition there is the lovely Marilyn's Theme composed by Alexandre Desplat and most beautifully played by piano soloist Lang Lang. On top of all this are Michelle Williams' musical numbers, which look and sound tremendous. This film is an aural dream.

     Modest in its focus and goals, the filmmakers have hit the mark marvellously, and I have chosen that word carefully. This is a little marvel of a film. I thought it would have been impossible to make a film as lovely and delightful as this particular subject, but they did it. Thank you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Presented at the ratio of 2.35:1 in a 1080p transfer, the film is given a splendid transfer.

     The images are sharp and clear, with a huge variety of scenes beautifully presented. The film has a wealth of close-ups, with minute details of face and make-up. The interiors are finely detailed, whether in scenes on set in the studio, ornate interiors of stately homes and castle libraries, or the glowingly lovely English countryside. This film looks beautiful. Some scenes are shot with available light, and these are not eye-popping quality, but they are not supposed to be. The colour palette is mostly wide and rich, with some close-ups scenes of the blonde star almost bleached of colour. There are good choices everywhere in this film. Skin tones are excellent.

     There are monocolour English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are three audio streams : English DTS 5.1 Encoded at 48 Khz, English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 48 Khz and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Encoded at 48 Khz.

    This is a totally satisfying audio experience. Given the nature of the film it would be ridiculous to expect a widely dynamic soundtrack, however what is presented is a lush and full aural experience. The dialogue is front and centre with minimal movement across the front stage. Dialogue is crystal clear without any sync problems. Surrounds basically contribute ambience and music, with the occasional car movement supplying a rare effect. The music is presented most effectively, whether the original score by Conrad Pope, Alexandre Desplat's lovely theme, or the popular music of the period. The subwoofer is basically limited to adding depth to the musical experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There is a modest but satisfying collection of special features on this disc. The Main Menu is presented over a still of Michelle Williams with an insert live-action montage. We hear the lovely Marilyn's Theme as well as other music from the film.

Start-Up Trailers (7:14)

     Three excellent trailers presented in stunning 1080p quality.

Audio Commentary

     This feature length commentary is delivered by the director, Simon Curtis. Here directing his first cinematic feature, Curtis delivers one of the best director's commentaries I have heard. He speaks enthusiastically about his film, his cast, his crew and the subject of this delicate movie. His enthusiasm at times causes him to speak over dialogue we'd like to hear, but that is forgivable. He delivers a number of interesting facts and anecdotes about the production. Who would have suspected that Judi Dench was never actually on set with Michelle Williams, that great Dame's scenes having to be shot ahead of all the others. There is a sad little note regarding Norman Wisdom, accurate comments about the deficiencies of the play itself, a discussion of the authentic locations and much analysis of the dramatic situations on screen. I loved the film and thoroughly enjoyed the commentary. The audio throughout is excellent, except in the final minutes over the end credits. The quality drops and the recording machine seems to be turned off and on with each change in credit, creating a minor audible glitch.

Featurette : My Week with Marilyn : The Untold story of an American icon (19:08)

     This making-of, behind the scenes featurette is presented in 1080p, but the quality is not quite as good as the feature itself. The film excerpts are presented 2.35:1, as with the film itself, with the interview and behind the camera footage presented at 1.78:1. There are interviews with many of the cast, including Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson and Judi Dench. Interesting and very worthwhile after seeing the film.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only difference between the two releases is that the U.S. release has Spanish subtitles.

Summary

     I did not see how this film could succeed, but it has, and magnificently. Michelle Williams is astonishingly good and so moving in her depiction of the truly tragic star, while Eddie Redmayne is super from the first scene to the last, and he is in them all. The supporting cast is almost flawless, with Kenneth Branagh at his best. Visually and technically the entire film is a treat. This is a tender, moving, loving film, and a joy to see. To first time director, Simon Curtis, a great big bouquet. The extras are limited, but worthy of your time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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Comments (Add)
Great review! - anonymous