Dave's Rating:


Some Guy and the Showgirl

Hmmm. More Candle in The Wind-isms. Great.

Look, I love Marilyn Monroe as much as the next person. I can't think of anyone who isn't awestruck by her every move every time she enters the frame of one of her old movies. Feeling ground down by life? Watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. You'll get over it, whatever it is. She'll help make it so. Because yes, she was a full-tilt voluptuary but she was also naturally gifted with comic ability, singing chops and a warmth that can be faked by only the best actors.

Obviously, she was also a human being and famously troubled off-camera. No movie about her can sidestep that. So it's not Michelle Williams's fault that her Marilyn impersonation skills involve a lot of kissy poses, trembling nerves, childlike neediness and groggy, sleeping-pill-driven pouting. Williams gives us everything she's got, and for a lot of the movie you can sometimes almost forget that it's not Monroe up on screen, but in the end it's all surface detail. It's the Marilyn Monroe we already know and the one we've already been taught to think we know.

And that's the un-get-over-able hump. This movie is based on a memoir, one written by Colin Clark (son of everybody's favorite art history textbook author Kenneth "Civilisation" Clark), and it details an intimate week that Clark (played here by Eddie Redmayne going for the full 1988 Rick Astley grin) spent in 1956 involved in a Monroe-led getaway from the battlefield set of Sir Laurence Olivier's film The Prince and the Showgirl. He was a production assistant, charged with wrangling the always-late, line-botching, terror-struck movie star, and she just whisked him away after deciding that her new husband, Death of a Salesman playwright Arthur Miller, wasn't all that excited to be married to her.

Apparently, Clark and Monroe had an almost-romance and this life-changing event involved her kissing him and telling him she loved him. Shouldn't this movie, then, give the audience a little more insight into why that happened? Was he just standing in the way of her need? Did he bring something other than earnest boyishness to the table? Did she ever speak more than two sentences at a time in his presence? Did it all look like a photo shoot for a skinny-dipping-centric Marilyn Monroe coffee table book during every single moment of its seven days? This is stuff the movie never figures out how to properly explain, so it contents itself with reminding you that this gorgeous creature was destroyed by the fame she needed so much.

Now, who wants to dig up her corpse and make out with it some more? Everybody? Yeah? Okay, let's do it.


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