(director: Simon Curtis; screenwriter: Adrian Hodges/ based on the diaries of Colin Clark, “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me” and “My Week With Marilyn”;; cinematographer: Ben Smithard; editor: Adam Recht; music: Conrad Pope; cast: Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe), Kenneth Branagh (Laurence Olivier), Eddie Redmayne (Colin Clark), Dominic Cooper (Milton Greene), Philip Jackson (Roger Smith), Derek Jacobi (Owen Morshead), Toby Jones (Arthur Jacobs), Michael Kitchen (Hugh Perceval), Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh), Simon Russell Beale (Cotes-Preedy), Dougray Scott (Arthur Miller), Zoe Wanamaker (Paula Strasberg), Emma Watson (Lucy), Judi Dench (Sybil Thorndike); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producers: David Parfitt/Harvey Weinstein; Weinstein Company; 2011)

TV director Simon Curtisdoes a so-so job filming Colin Clark’s lightweight 2000 story in his memoir.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

TV director Simon Curtisdoes a so-so job filming Colin Clark’s lightweight 2000 story in his memoir, ‘The Prince, the Showgirl and Me’. It tells of how in 1956 Colin (Eddie Redmayne), as a 23-year-old, came to London in the early summer from his home in Oxford to get his first job in films, a career he wanted instead of following in the footsteps of his art historian father Sir Kenneth Clark. Colin was hired only because his parents were friends with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and became the lowly third assistant director, a gofer, in a film Laurence Olivier was directing from the play The Sleeping Prince by Terence Rattigan. It was re-titled in the film version as ‘The Prince and the Showgirl.’ The classical stage actor Olivier co-starred opposite the insecure sexpot Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), and came on as a chauvinist pig who only thought of the actress as a sexpot and was looking forward to having an affair with the 30-year-old Marilyn. But things didn’t go well between them, as the actor she must adored put her down for not acting up to his standards and as a result the moody Marilyn proved to be difficult to work with.

Nice guy Colin struck up a friendship with the vulnerable Marilyn Monroe, who was taking the part to prove she can be a serious actress, when things tensed up between her and Olivier and more so when her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), left his British honeymoon in a huff to return to America because he couldn’t deal with his new wife’s anxiety attacks over the shoot and used the excuse he needed to see his children. Marilyn also needed Colin as a breather from her buttering-up Method acting coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), who was not wanted on the set by Olivier because she interfered with his directing. But Olivier had to yield to Marilyn’s wishes or else his box office attraction threatened to return to America.

The story is set during Arthur Miller’s one week exit, whereby the timid Colin acts out on his crush for the movie star and keeps the temperamental, pill-popping and always late to the set Marilyn company. He takes her away from her grasping handlers for a brief respite, sleeps with her after one of her drug binges but without having sex, goes skinny-dipping with her in the Thames, gets the royal tour in Windsor Castle for Marilyn because of his relative’sconnections with the castle and gives her his unconditional love–a love she felt she needed because of her unfortunate upbringing, that she was always being abandoned by those she loved and needed to be loved to feel like a regular person.

Nothing is revealed about Marilyn that wasn’t already fleshed out before, but it makes for a pleasant and non-taxing watch. Michelle Williams makes for an almost credible Marilyn, but she stops short of ever turning into a real person; Redmayne is the cipher character who supposedly sees the true Marilyn, as he unbelievably, at times, walks the line between movie idol adulation and feeling the need to be protective; Branagh lays on us Olivier’s massive ego and how unctuous he can be without letting us see the ‘it’ factor that makes him a great stage actor; and Emma Watson has the unpleasant role of playing the down-to-earth no-nonsense wardrobe girl who feels she’s only Colin’s second option and therefore has little to do but offer mechanical responses to his pleas of love; while the ensemble cast ofDominic Cooper (Marilyn’s uptight protective business partner), Toby Jones (Marilyn’s sly press agent), Julia Ormond (as Vivien Leigh, Olivier’s not trusting 43-year-old actress wife) and Judi Dench (the amiable actress in the film being shot) effortlessly handle their minor roles and provide the proper atmosphere, but can’t carry a film that has such a predictable and lackluster screenplay from Adrian Hodges–one that tries to tell us with a straight face who the tragic popular actress is by thinking it got her down pat by Ms. Williams imitating her well-known public poses and thinking such superficial observations get to the heart of the real Marilyn.

REVIEWED ON 12/15/2011 GRADE: B-