I was unusual among heterosexual males growing up in the fifties: Marilyn Monroe left me cold. (Brigitte Bardot, on the other hand. . . but I digress.) This film, featuring Michelle Williams as a plausible MM, fails to change my attitude.
It’s London, 1956, and young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) lands a job as a gopher for Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who has unwisely signed MM for a film that he both directs and stars in. The blonde noodle proceeds to drive the cast and crew to celluloid hell by (a) turning up hours late for shoots (b) not turning up at all or, when the camera does manage to catch her, (c) flubbing the simplest lines. Ironically, she has brought along drama coach Lee Strasberg (Zoe Wannamaker with a believable American accent), a student-teacher fit that is as useful as hiring Richard Dawkins to explain evolution to Rick Santorum. Although Colin and most of the males she meets are besotted, the film still never asks the pressing question: what do they see in this 10-year-old trapped in a woman’s body?
Possibly, the producers, seeing that they had a theme as substantial as popcorn, bolstered its appeal by signing up a sterling cast of well-known Brits for the cameo roles. So as well as Wannamaker, you get to see familiar faces from film and telly: Judi Dench (“M” in the Bond franchise), Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius and a lot of other people), Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter), Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War), Toby Jones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Philip Jackson (Inspector Japp in Poirot), Jim Carter (Carson, the butler in Downton Abbey), Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives) and Dominic Cooper (The History Boys and An Education). All of whom turn up on time for the shoot and say the lines.
Bottom line: Stay home and watch any of the films or series mentioned above. Including Desperate Housewives.