My Week with Marilyn | Film reivew
Michelle Williams turns our spines to mush. The rest of the movie, not so much.
This year’s exercise in prestige-biopic fluff gets off to a dire start, with narrator Colin Clark—a go-getting, early-twentysomething Brit played by Eddie Redmayne—delivering a voiceover that makes him as solicitous to viewers as he is to his would-be bosses. The kid wants to make it in the U.K. film biz, you see. Soon he lands a job as an assistant on The Prince and the Showgirl, a not particularly well-regarded 1957 farce in which Laurence Olivier attempted to prove he could direct something light and Marilyn Monroe continued her bid to be taken seriously as an actor.
Once Monroe—or rather, Michelle Williams’s embodiment of her—steps off the plane, it’s difficult not to melt. Considering the iconic status of the figure she’s playing, Williams has pulled off a major feat, capturing not just Monroe’s mannerisms but her appeal. As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh hams it up; his constant exasperation at Marilyn’s tardiness and useless Method coaching from Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker) enlivens the movie’s most engaging moments of insider access.
Still, as deadweight scenes involving Colin’s dalliance with a costume girl (Emma Watson) attest, the film (based on Clark’s memoir) is told from an outsider’s perspective. It’s a canny vantage point that allows the movie to acknowledge Monroe’s substance abuse and shaky marriage to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) while still regarding her as an ethereal, fundamentally mysterious figure. Besides, the idea that any movie so calculated could be showing us the “real” Marilyn seems pretty bogus. My Week is revisionist mythmaking, as slick as The King’s Speech and not half as consequential.