Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson, Judi Dench
Director: Simon Curtis
To those who knew her, Marilyn Monroe was known as a pretty sharp cookie--not at all the dumb blonde persona she maintained for the public. And that may be my only criticism of Michelle Williams' performance in My Week With Marilyn. Williams plays the mega-star closer to that public image, even in private. But in every other way, she nails the character--capturing the little girl vulnerability of a troubled woman who might well have traded in her fame for the feeling of being truly loved.
My Week With Marilyn chronicles a brief moment in time in the life of the late writer/documentary film maker Colin Clark. In 1956, Clark was a callow 23-year-old who had landed a job as a lowly production assistant for the the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl--a movie Marilyn Monroe co-starred in with Sir Laurence Olivier. Marilyn was newly wedded to playwright Arthur Miller, but he wasn't around much for the making of the film in Britain.
As the most celebrated woman in the world, Marilyn had some obvious trust issues. But she took a shine to the young lad. His puppy dog adoration and protectorship of her must have seemed like a rock she could rely on, as he alternately played escort, nursemaid, and suitor (at least in his own mind) to her during the turbulence of the film production--which saw Monroe showing up late for work and forgetting her lines.
Eddie Redmayne plays Mr. Clark as the dogged young man with stars in his eyes, determined to find a niche for himself in the film industry.
Kenneth Branagh, as Laurence Olivier, does a fine job of capturing the actor's petulance and befuddlement with the process of simultaneously directing (which he did) and starring in a film with Monroe.
Dame Judi Dench adds a touch of old school class to the proceedings.
In the minor subplot, Emma Watson is well cast as a young girl who has fallen for Colin, but sees it going for naught as the allure of the goddess continues to draw him in. (I had my own exquisite pain of the brush with fame when, at the same tender age, I spent an afternoon in the company of the number one female pop group of all time. The one I really liked held onto my hand for what seemed to be an inordinately long time, as we made small talk. That evening I wept at the realization that she could never be mine...so to say that I could identify with the young Mr. Clark's emotional predicament would be an understatement.)
I kept wondering how much skin they were going to allow Michelle Williams to display--especially if there were to be any topless shots--inviting the inevitable comparisons with Monroe's body. (I've seen both Monroe and Williams topless--each quite lovely in her own way--but I don't think anyone with a PRACTICED eye, such as...uh...MYSELF...would mistake one for the other!) So director Simon Curtis plays it just right. He gives us a couple of brief shots of Michelle's bottom--which I dare say, old chap, will compare favorably to anyone's...including Ms. Monroe!
The soundtrack, featuring some lush tunes from Nat King Cole (DAMN--he was a good singer) is perfect.
My Week With Marilyn is a small gem of a film that will break your heart...just like Marilyn broke everyone else's.