My Week With Marilyn Review

Film Still
Trailer
  • My Week With Marilyn film still

Score

Watch to get a little dazzled yourself; then go rent Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The scenes that bookend this nostalgic slice of film history show Miss Monroe (Michelle Williams) on a cinema screen being gazed at by a breathless young man. This, it’s clear from the title, isn’t a movie about the woman born Norma Jeane Mortenson, who survived foster homes and guzzled barbiturates; it’s about the legend of Marilyn, seen through the eyes of someone entranced by her glamour.

There are gestures towards inner torment, but even sobbing and makeup-free, Williams is filmed at flattering angles, the storminess only adding to her mystique. Trying to see things from Marilyn’s point of view is beside the point; as viewers, our job is to adore her.

Lucky for us, then, that Williams’ impersonation is up to scratch, and adoring her isn’t too hard. She captures the lilting voice and eagerness to please, and her heart-shaped face makes for a likeness that’s sometimes uncanny. Extra points should be awarded for her vivaciousness opposite Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, whose real-life memoirs form the basis for the film.

While Clark, a young toff trying to make it in the movie biz, is required to do little but look dazzled, the actor doesn’t bring much to the part except for a pleasantly freckled face and an air of the country manor (Redmayne, like his character, went to an elite boarding school.)

Chances of My Week With Marilyn becoming this year’s The King's Speech come Oscar season are given a boost by the supporting cast, which brings together Judi Dench as grande dame Sybil Thorndike, Kenneth Branagh as an enjoyably hammy Laurence Olivier, Zoë Wanamaker as an acting coach and Emma Watson as the girl-next-door wardrobe mistress, still dressed, it seems, for the Hogwarts library.

It’s an ensemble that’s fun to watch, and although the film – which focuses on a few days when Clark, working on the film The Prince and the Showgirl, was adopted as Marilyn’s confidant – offers few insights beyond the idea that showbiz can be a rocky path, its romance and nostalgia are seductive. Watch to get a little dazzled yourself; then go rent Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Anticipation

Williams’ star keeps rising; but will she pull off Marilyn?

3

Enjoyment

Indulge in imagining it’s you hanging out with the star

4

In Retrospect

Once the tingles wear off, little food for thought.

2
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View 6 comments

Joe

2 years ago
The fact Williams has nothing like the grace, charm and beauty of Marilyn herself means I, and many others, just won't be interested. Who did she sleep with to get this role?

Anton Bitel

2 years ago
Williams may much be less of an icon (or indeed of a bombshell), but I would argue that she is a much better actor. Not commenting on the film here, as I haven't seen it.

neil mitchell

2 years ago
I would agree with Anton, Williams is a far better actor than Monroe was, her performances in Meek's Cutoff and Blue Valentine alone testify to that.

Miri

2 years ago
I agree with Joe. What does Marilyn Monroe's acting skills have to do with Michelle Williams' acting skills?
Oh--in answer to your question. Heath Ledger to get on the A-list. Other than him, practically everyone else in the movie industry.

Anton Bitel

2 years ago
The question of Michelle Williams' acting skills becomes very important, I'd have thought, when it has been suggested - both lazily and libellously - that she merely sleeps her way into her roles (and, according to Miri, with "practically everyone... in the movie industry" ). After all, it is impossible for a woman to be successful without being a whore, right?

She is a very good actor - and I have heard that she is also very good in My Week With Marilyn. People who are very good actors tend to, you know, get the parts. Who they sleep with is irrelevant. Hollywood has, to the best of my knowledge, long since abandoned the 'casting couch' that was so prevalent in Monroe's own day.

Rache

2 years ago
A lot of these negative comments come from people who have not even seen the film. Michelle Williams does not look exactly like Marilyn, but she looks enough like her to convince, and our imaginations can do the rest. It's her acting, however, that really shines. She is outstanding, and captures the fragility and loveableness, and even the frustratingly egotistic side of Marilyn. I'm really glad I saw this film. It is slight in plot and not grand like The King's Speech (which I didn't like that much anyway) but it is a revelation in terms of showcasing Michelle Williams' acting skills.
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