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.
Williams’ star keeps rising; but will she pull off Marilyn?
Indulge in imagining it’s you hanging out with the star
Once the tingles wear off, little food for thought.