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“My Week with Marilyn” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 26, 2011

For a moment, I thought the opening scene of “My Week with Marilyn”, was an actual clip of the real Marilyn doing her rendition of ‘Can-Can’, turns out it’s just the icing on top of Michelle Williams brilliant portrayal as the troubled starlet.

Based on a memoir by documentary filmmaker Colin Clark, Simon Curtis’ film explores the minimal in depth private life of Hollywood super star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and her first film outside the US. “The Prince and the Showgirl”, directed by and starring Sir Laurence Oliver (Kenneth Branagh), Oliver decided that by casting Monroe it would revamp his career, and perhaps give him that young new feeling he’d been longing for. The movie follows a young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who dreams of working in the pictures; through connections from his family he earns a job in Sir Laurence’s production company, finally receiving the title of 3rd Assistant Director. Relationships conspire; a love triangle emerges between Colin, the costume girl Lucy (Emma Watson), and Ms. Monroe.

It’s interesting how the movie juxtaposes with Monroe’s addiction to pills & other drugs to how Colin becomes addicted to Monroe herself. This innocent love surfaces over the course of production, begging the question for Colin what is it about Marilyn that he is really in love with, the person or the star? It’s interesting how the film pits these conflicts together; at first he has his relations with Lucy, a sign of true possible love, and finally coming together with Marilyn, who already back then was notorious for crushing hearts.

The movie as a whole is pretty good, if anyone is at all interested how the production of “The Prince and the Showgirl” conspired, and subsequently why Sir Laurence decided to quit directing for the next two decades afterwards, then see it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie, I found it interesting, and I loved Michelle Williams performance, but I found that just coming off the “The Kings Speech” a year ago, The Weinstein Company is back with another period drama focusing on a troubled historical figure following the same beats. It has almost the same formula as that film did.

Now, if I’m being serious about recommending this movie, Michelle Williams is the 100% real reason to see this movie. Playing a part of a real person can be intimidating for any actor or actress. But, playing the role of a famous starlet, loved by millions, with followers still in today’s world are quite the shoes to fill. Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe will easily catapult her to another Oscar nomination, and perhaps a possible win. Williams finds the complexity of Monroe near pitch perfect. It’s sad to see how troubled Marilyn was back then.

Part of the method movement, she had an acting coach helping her break down the character, trying to live through it, problem was she had a hard time finding that role, which caused delays upon delays, driving Oliver mad. Monroe’s people force-feeding her pills so she can sleep, eat, work, whatever. It was no wonder how she had such a tragic ending near the end of her life. Williams brought all of that to performance in an honest way.

While the movie follows familiar beats, “My Week with Marilyn” is a respectful look into the Hollywood life of Marilyn Monroe, but also a good coming of age story as well. With a strong performance by Michelle Williams, I can’t really see any reason why anyone would not want to see this movie. It’s Oscar season, better get a head start.

GRADE: B+

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