Monday, December 5, 2011

Soundtrack Review: My Week With Marilyn

“My Week With Marilyn” is drawn from the memoirs of a lowly assistant that shepherded the actress around Britain while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The film features a soundtrack largely written by Conrad Pope, but incorporating a main theme written by Alexandre Desplat. Desplat’s music, called “Marilyn’s Theme” on the soundtrack, is built on a rising, then falling five note motif that evokes some of the star’s fragility. Lang Lang performs the solo piano part on the title track, as well as throughout the soundtrack, whenever cues call for the theme to reoccur.

Some of Pope’s music has a churning, buoyant urban restlessness that indicates things are happening on screen. But over time, that sound becomes a little tiresome. I preferred Pope’s quieter, more melodic cues that feature either woodwind soloists playing longer lines, or the aforementioned piano theme by Desplat. One of my favorite tracks is “Arthur’s Notebook.” Arthur, in this case, refers to playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe’s new husband in 1956. He had to leave for work while the two were on honeymoon in England, and Marilyn was left alone.

The soundtrack also includes a few period hits of the time, including Nat King Cole and Dean Martin, and features Michelle Williams vocals on “When Love Goes Wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “I Found A Dream,” by Richard Addinsell (known for his ‘Warsaw Concerto.’). Although no one can match Monroe’s unique voice, Williams holds her own. I suspect the effect works even better on screen!

--Nathan Cone

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