I don’t have an explanation for having waited until today to finally post a review of My Week With Marilyn, and to voice my agreement with all the praisers of Michelle Williams‘ performance as Marilyn Monroe. Make no mistake: I am on the latter boat. Williams becomes Monroe in all the alluring, imitative ways (looks, voice, trembling, hurting), and she brings three characters to life — the sexy and glamorous movie star, the unstable and insecure pill-popper who lived under the Monroe facade, and the “showgirl” Monroe played in The Prince and the Showgirl.
Charismatic, commanding, special, award-quality….all of that. Williams’ biggest score yet. Big heart, movie babe, stays with you.
The Pi9newood Studios shooting of that 1957 comedy-romance with Laurence Olivier is what the film is basically about. That and a kind of puppy-love romance with young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), whose two books about his friendship and experience with Monroe as he worked as a third assistant director is the basis of Adrian Hodges‘ screenplay.
Kenneth Branagh has some fun portraying Olivier, but I wouldn’t call his performance anything to do handstands over.
The romantic highlight or payoff is about a brief period in which Monroe becomes close with Clark after husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) goes back to the U.S. They bond more and more. They almost do the deed but not quite. And then the film wraps and there’s an emotional goodbye and she goes home.
I wouldn’t call Simon Curtis‘s film brilliant or exceptional, but it’s good enough for what it is and what it’s about. It’s basically a showcase for Williams, and I do think she’s now a formidable contender against Meryl Streep‘s Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady and Viola Davis in The Help. I mainly think it’s between Williams and Streep as I don’t really believe that Davis, good as she is, is actually playing a lead. She has a very strong supporting role in The Help, and I think calling it a lead role is a film-flam.
There are two things wrong with Marilyn. One is the decision to start it off with Redmayne’s narration. It’s always better to allow the audience to learn who the characters are and understand what the basic story will be gradually, step by step, by their own wits and observations. It’s always tedious to have a lead character begin a film by saying “this is who I was and this is what I needed and wanted and this is what I did” and blah, blah. The other irritant is the way Curtis constantly and relentlessly cuts to Redmayne making goo-goo eyes at Williams/Monroe. I got sick of seeing that same expression, over and over and over.
I called this review “please, Mr. Beanstalk” because there’s a frail and fluttery tone in the real Marilyn Monroe’s voice when she says this line in Some Like It Hot, and because Williams absolutely nails this tone perfectly.
I’ve never to this day seen The Prince and the Showgirl. Has anyone? I’ve read all my life that it’s a minor film,