“My Week with Marilyn” Movie Review

     Michelle Williams plays Marilyn Monroe in the film “My Week with Marilyn”, based on the book by the film’s other main character Colin Clark.  For a film like this, for me it comes down to one simple thing:  Does Michelle Williams pull it off?  Has she mastered the mannerisms and charisma of one of the 50’s and 60’s most notable mega stars?  From my view point, I say no doubt.  You may remember Michelle Williams from her Academy Award nominated performance last year in the divorce drama “Blue Valentine”, but here she gives a true performance worthy of an Oscar.  I might be tempted to compare it to Jamie Foxx’s Oscar winning performance in “Ray”, but that would do Williams an injustice because her performance in this film should stand on its own.  She is destined to win the gold this year.

     When you get past the performance by Michelle Williams, your really left with kind of a ho hum story.  Simon Curtis directs based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, a 23 year old college graduate who’s looking to break into the movie business and get his first job.  After extreme persistence, Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne, is assigned the title of 3rd Assistant Director for a film called “The Prince and the Showgirl.”  Starring in and directed by Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), the film is to be the first film where Monroe travels to England to film a movie.  “My Week with Marilyn” essentially serves as a documentation of the events during the filming of “The Prince and the Showgirl” and chronicles Clark’s budding relationship with Monroe as sort of a fill in for her husband at the time, Arthur Clark.  On the flip side, there is also a very intense relationship between Monroe and Olivier on set and the film recreates numerous on set sequences that show the struggles between the director and actress. 

     To put it mildly, Marilyn Monroe is depicted in this film as having what appears to be some severe psychological problems.  She appears to struggle greatly with confidence and is nothing like the persona that is Marilyn Monroe on screen.  At all times she has her acting coach by her side, as well as her manager, but when her husband decides to go back to America to be with his children, she then seems to have a void that needs to be filled. She appears accustomed to filling that void with various pills, but it seems to me she just wants someone to talk to.  Enter Colin Clark, who is requested by Monroe to her private cottage before and after her shooting schedule for the day.  Colin and Monroe have those kind of all night chats that seem to always spark something more.  Even though Marilyn is the “older women” here, she takes an obvious liking to Colin  and they form a clear emotional bond.  Monroe’s handlers are furious and do not support their budding relationship, but one person who does is Olivier.

     As Monroe and Colin Clark’s relationship continues to grow, so does Monroe’s performance in front of the cameras.  As the film comes to its third act, we get to see re-creations of several takes from “The Prince and the Showgirl” and thats when you really know that Michelle Williams has nailed it.  I’m watching these scenes thinking that’s Marilyn Monroe.  It’s at that point an actor has successfully convinced an audience they are indeed the character they are playing and its been a while since I’ve been that impressed.  Again, the story in “My Week with Marilyn” sometimes struggles a bit with its lack of plot and documentary / making of feel.  In some ways you’d expect this type of material to find its way on the “The Prince and the Showgirl” Blu ray, but the film also has a certain emotional pitch that will likely satisfy most viewers.  The Colin Clark and Monroe relationship is believable and is also true.  For better or worse, their relationship may have lit a fire under Marilyn Monroe because as the end credits will tell you, she went on  to make “Some Like It Hot” for her next film.  That film is considered her best and is consistently talked about as one of the best films of all time. GRADE: B+