It's 1956 and Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe arrives to London to work with famous Laurence Olivier in his film "Prince and The Showgirl". Young and passionate about films Colin Clark uses his connections and dedication to get a 3rd assistant director role on the set of Olivier's film. He observes working relationships on set and starts his own close relationships, including one with Marilyn Monroe.
Michelle Williams plays Monroe and while she does it with charm and delicacy, let's just say truth: she is not Marilyn and one can only pity an actress who has to portrait on screen someone as charismatic as her. Same goes to Laurence Olivier played by Kenneth Branagh. If you want to imagine how these two would go on, it's enough to watch the real "Prince and The Showgirl" and picture Monroe and Olivier playing a Director versus Star. I am not going to criticise Williams' performance as she had to keep up with some astonishingly cheesy lines.
Cheesy lines, that's what downgrades Eddie Redmayne's otherwise brilliant performance. He is usually great with being extremely innocent and sweet, that's what makes him the best for this role and casting couldn't make a better choice for Colin Clarke's character. But saying out loud what belongs to romantic novellas and girls' diaries does not make one look very convincing.
While story is beautiful and sweet, it lacks conflict and scriptwriters failed to dramatise it. Instead they injected a full amount of super-sweet lines in places where silence, a look and a pause on actors' eyes would do a better job. Why cast great actors anyway if you make them narrate all of their feelings? Actors are there to get those feelings out on screen so the audience trust what they SEE not HEAR.
This is what cinema is about.
It's about reaction, when one character is on the front and talks to someone who is standing behind, sometimes reaction is more important than words. But director Simon Curtis decided to go on a narrow lens to make every shot stylish and "cinematic", i.e. using shallow depth of field. It is very frustrating when one can't see a face of an actor/actress just because they are out of focus for stylistic reasons. Why do you need these great actors at all if you keep on not showing their faces?
The middle part of the film was quite flat and repetitive. Shot as a beautiful postcard of Britain it lacks the bittersweet feelings of young Colin Clark. Great sunny weather only suggests that everything is brilliant, while Colin knew at the bottom of his heart it's just a silver lining in the enormous black cloud that covered Marilyn's life.
It is a great film to watch for aspiring filmmakers to see what could be done better at scriptwriting stage, editing and directing. This story could have been saved and had all the potential for being one of the best films this year, Mr Weinstein.