Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
It’s hard to write a review of My Week with Marilyn without an in depth appraisal of Michelle Williams portrayal of the icon that is Monroe. From the opening sequence of Heatwave, it’s easy to tell Williams has studied and pretty much perfected the Monroe wiggle and mannerisms. At times she looks remarkably like Monroe, yet at others she’s clearly trying too hard and fails to compare to Marilyn's beauty and charisma.
Credit where credit’s due, though, playing Monroe was always going to be a tough call for any actress and at times the voice just isn't right but it must be said that Williams delivers a worthy performance. Twenty-five minutes into the film something clicks into place and what she achieves as an actress is that you fall in love with Monroe all over again.
The plot is itself questionable; based on the memoir by Colin Clarke, at that time an assistant on set during the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl in which he escorted Marilyn around 1956 England following her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. In fact, in several interviews with people who knew and worked with Monroe at the time, they deny that any of it actually happened. The result is almost an exaggerated school boy fantasy.
It portrays Marilyn as a weak, fragile being fighting with her own demons stemming from a sad and lonely childhood and her efforts to be taken seriously as an actress whilst forgetting her lines. On the whole, a character far removed from the talented real movie star who a year earlier formed her own production company and became the greatest and highest grossing actress of the twentieth century. Yet, My Week With Marilyn would have us believe that despite clashing at the time with co-star Olivier (Branagh) and the discovery of Miller’s (Scott) diaries in which he wrote about her allegedly as an embarrassment, Clarke (Redmayne) somehow - like a knight in shining armour - made it all ok for that week.
The production is high budget and the sets are authentic, as are the costumes, and there's a talented cast (including Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike) who will probably take home a handful of Oscars. You don't have to be a Monroe fan to enjoy this film - the fairytale like plot captures you and in the same vein as The Kings Speech there's no doubt it will be a triumph for British cinema.
Somehow director Simon Curtis and writer Adrian Hodges have managed to pull off and produce what is actually a really good watchable film despite its flaws. It’s a must for Monroe fans to see and draw their own conclusions. And, just for a short time, it really feels like the legend Monroe has been bought back to life - if only for a couple of watchable hours.
My Week With Marilyn is on at Broadway until Thursday 8 December
My Week With Marilyn official website