My Week with Marilyn comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a very good 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, from the longer establishing shots to the close-ups, with noteworthy fine object detail. There’s little to complain about in terms of defects either, with no digital artefacts, no over edge enhancement and no unruly DNR, although clarity does waver; the image occasionally taking on a strange softness which often feels wholly suited to the period material – particularly when they are shooting The Prince and the Showgirl – but is still worth pointing out. The colour palette is rich and vivid; don’t be fooled by the period setting, apart from the very authentic sets and vehicles used, this looks as fine as if it were shot in recent times, with lush green grass and rich mahogany interiors. Skin tones are healthy and vibrant. Black levels are strong and allow for decent shadow detail and a stable grain level permeates the piece, giving it a nice filmic look. It’s not quite demo quality, but it’s a very good video presentation nonetheless.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a good effort, offering up a decent representation of the material. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout – from back-room to bed-room to set and screen – always taking precedence over the rest of the mix. Effects are limited to just atmospheric offerings, with flash bulb pops, prop-planes, old school cars and film projectors all contributing towards the heady ambient mix which will make you feel that you’re back in the Fifties. Of course the score helps no end in that particular respect, a punchy blend of classic jazz and double-bass, which punctuates the film at all the suitable Marilyn-getting-photographed-by-the-Press-interludes. Unfortunately there’s nothing really here to truly show off the breadth of the lossless track, or the full dynamic array, just enough to make for a worthy and satisfying accompaniment to the main feature.
There are only a couple of extras adorning this UK release, but they are fairly good ones. It’s just a shame that absolutely nothing about the real Marilyn is included on the disc.
Audio Commentary with Director Simon Curtis allows us some insight into the production. Whilst not the greatest host, leaving the track peppered with lengthy pauses and somewhat unnecessary contemplation, there is plenty of background information to be gleaned if you have the time, as he notes the original source work, the story culled from the two books, the actors cast and the shooting process. It’s particularly interesting to hear about how hard Williams pushed to get into the character, emotionally struggling with some of the more disturbed sequences in the movie. Worth dipping in and out of.
The Untold Story of an American Icon is a reasonably interesting, if misleadingly titled Making-Of, which runs just shy of 20 minutes and has the cast and crew reflecting on the production – specifically the story work surrounding The Prince and the Showgirl – and the relationships forged during that period which were brought to life therein. It’s quite a decent, informative offering, which also finds time to look at the performances, the director’s work, the costume and set design, the score, and the location shoot.
Although it may not afford viewers a wealth of information about the lives of all the famous stars depicted herein, My Week with Marilyn remains a little gem; a small-scale film with a warm heart, which blends the true life tale of a dream come true, adding in strands of coming-of-age drama, first blush romance, psychological drama, tragic biopic, stage play and period piece all into the mix. Throw in some not-to-be-missed performances – including admirable work by Michelle Williams as the eponymous Marilyn, and a fantastic turn by Kenneth Branagh as Sir Lawrence Olivier – along with some hints of intriguing insight, and there are plenty of reasons to check out this little Brit flick.
On Region B-locked Blu-ray we get solid video and audio as well as a couple of good extras; it’s a strong enough package to please fans and a decent enough release to make for a blind buy for those who love biopics, movies about Marilyn or period pieces of this ilk. Everybody else could certainly give it a rental to see if it’s worth adding to their collection.
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