'My Week with Marilyn' premiere

Nicola Heath

The premiere screening of ‘My Week with Marilyn’ opened the St George OpenAir Cinema’s 2012 season in Sydney on Wednesday.

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The film, directed by Simon Curtis and starring Michelle Williams in an Oscar-worthy performance, drew out several Sydney glitterati despite the ominous storm clouds threatening the city. Richard Roxburgh, Suzie Elelman, Grace Otto, and young star of ‘The Slap’ Sophie Lowe were all rewarded for treading the red carpet when the bad weather held off.

Flowing Moet as well as ice cold Peronis kept the guests happy at the VIP bar until it was showtime. It’s hard to imagine there is more spectacular setting in Australia to see a film. The Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquarie’s Point is the home of St George Open Air Cinema, and movie-goers enjoy an unbeatable view of Sydney’s famous harbour. The silver screen hovers over the water, and as the sun sets the lights of Luna Park and the occasional passing cruise ship create a picture-perfect nightscape.

Based on two memoirs written by Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne in the film), ‘My Week with Marilyn’ recounts the filming of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ in 1957. Newlywed couple Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller arrive in England from New York to spend a week shooting the film directed by theatre doyen Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Emma Watson appears in a small part and Judi Dench is wonderful as the veteran actress Dame Sybil Thorndike.

Williams is luminous as the iconic film star, effortlessly capturing in her heavy-lidded gaze and heart-stopping smile Monroe’s brand of languid sensuality. Bleached blonde curls and fifties fashion aside, the way Williams’ inhabits the character is uncanny.

The film animates more than just the glamorous side of Monroe’s life. Williams nails the paradoxical nature of Monroe’s character: while the woman was an undeniable dynamo, she was also fragile, often unhappy, and fraught with emotional problems.

Just as bewitching as watching Williams inhabit Monroe’s character is watching her wear the period clothes. Williams’ costumes in the film stay true to Monroe’s offscreen style; a muted palette featuring black, white, beige and camel dominates her attire. Dark sunglasses and red lips complete the look, while pencil skirts and figure-hugging dresses pay homage to the film star’s famous silhouette.

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