Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens locally Friday, November 25th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson, Judy Dench
Directed by Simon Curtis (feature film debut)
By no means is "My Week With Marilyn" a biopic, although the main draw of the film is that is about Marilyn Monroe. More specificly, it is based on a single week in 1957 as seen through the eyes of young Colin Clark, an assistant director assigned to Sir Laurence Olivier's film "The Prince and the Showgirl." This film paired the famous Olivier with Monroe, whom at first was star-struck himself, wanting the famous actress to be in his film. Reputedly, Olivier grew so annoyed by Monroe's behavior on the set that the two stars clashed, and Olivier decided not to direct another film until 13 years later.
I can't imagine a person alive who doesn't know of Marilyn Monroe. Her face is one of the most iconic in all of Hollywood, and in pop culture. The world famous actress died in 1962 way too young at the age of 36, from an apparent drug-induced suicide. This film portrays her as a delicately vulnerable soul, who's striking beauty and star power were unmatched. It also feeds into her reputation as a gal who got around.
Based on Colin Clark's diary of the same name, "My Week With Marilyn" details a fling that Colin claimed he had with Marilyn during the shooting of the film, at a time when Marilyn was married to the famous playwright Arthur Miller. Whether he did or didn't in real life is irrelevant...this is told from his perspective.
The movie itself is a mash-up of on-the-set shenanigans between Sir Lawrence Olivier and Marilyn, and a riddling fling-of-a-love-story between her and Colin. The ensemble is quite astounding, as is Branagh in an award-worthy turn as the powerfully confident thespian actor. But all the talk surrounding this film will be about Michelle Williams and her genius, sensational portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.
Michelle Williams melts away into this, her defining role thus far in her young career. That's saying quite a lot, as just last year Michelle Williams was my pick for Best Actress for her incredibly raw performance in "Blue Valentine" opposite Ryan Gosling. Sometimes it takes a building resume with Oscar voters in order to be recognized with a win, and anything less than that for her role here would be pure heresy. As Monroe, Williams perfectly shows the actress's unique sense of vulnerability balanced with panache. Monroe knew what it took to be a star, but couldn't quite figure out what to do with herself out of the spotlight. The film makes it a point to show that she mesmorized both men and women, not necessarily in a sexual way, but as giddy fans.
When on set, Monroe is portrayed as showing up late, fretting over dialogue, and looking to her acting instructor as her only sense of motivation. Williams blends all of this into a bedazzling, enchanting performance that encapsulates the torn soul of Marilyn Monroe and gives us a taste of what she was like for those of us who may have never even know about her. Through Williams, we all do now.
I found the film itself to be solidly entertaining, if uneven. Like a few of the earlier Monroe films that I've seen, Williams/Monroe seems to transcend the screen, a bigger draw than the plot or the other actors around her. I left the theatre wondering how much of what I had just seen was factual, or just legend.
In either case, you take with you a sense of the legacy of Marilyn Monroe and what made her famous. As to whether or not Colin Clark had an affair with Marilyn? Wouldn't we all have dreamed of Marilyn falling for us, as did the millions whom she came into contact with? In that sense, be it fact or fiction, it plays out as a fantasy worth investing in.
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