My Week With Marilyn Review: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (15): On General Release Friday 25th November

My Week With Marilyn is told from the perspective of the luckiest 23 year-old in the history of the world, who cuddled, skinny-dipped and canoodled with Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame.In 1956, Monroe (Michelle Williams) arrived in England for the first time, to shoot Laurence Olivier’s light comedy The Prince and the Showgirl.

Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) soon became frustrated with Monroe’s tendency to show up late and her inability to remember lines. It’s soon revealed that Monroe is more than just a singing, dancing sexpot and behind those cat-eye sunglasses is a multi-layered, conflicted and depressed young woman who latches onto the young third assistant director, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), for comfort.

Based on the real Clark’s account, which he published 40 years after the fact, director Simon Curtis’ adaptation contains much of the warmth found in flicks of the era, though it’s considerably deeper. At times, however, the director tries too hard to transport us to the 50’s, as almost every moment is laden with period details, which eventually begin to feel artificial. Curtis doesn’t do much to add to his cast’s performances, but importantly, he doesn’t take much away either.

While the staging could seem pedestrian to some, ultimately it harkens to the classic filmmaking of its subject matter and relies on the strength of its actors to create something memorable. Straddling the line between a heartwarming coming of age tale and tragically foreshadowing biopic, the thing that really stands out is Williams’ performance as the conflicted icon.

It should be noted that in his feature film debut, Curtis embarks on an ambitious project and impressively manages not to mess it up. The story is powerfully simple and it covers Clark’s loss of innocence, Olivier’s struggle with the changing industry and of course Monroe’s battle against the celebrity-obsessed public and pressures from those around her.

On the whole, the performances are excellent though the actors are hindered slightly by Curtis’ heavy handed period details. Kenneth Branagh plays an excellently dry Olivier, providing some laugh out loud moments and Eddie Redmayne brings the necessary puppy-dog qualities to his character. Emma Watson plays her role as Colin’s temporary sweetheart well enough, having enough experience making out with Ron in Harry Potter, and Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh), Dominic Cooper (Milton Greene) and Judie Dench (Dame Sybil Thorndike) are impressive as well.

Ultimately, Michelle Williams steals the show and her performance is brilliant. Channeling every aspect of the Hollywood icon, she isnothing short of stunning and the impression alone makes the film worth seeing. Williams is center stage whenever she appears and grabs attention as fully as Monroe herself would,simultaneously portraying her as a sex icon at the height of her fame and a tortured soul headed for tragedy. This is a performance that will doubtlessly garner well-deserved Oscar attention in the near future.

My Week With Marilyn isn’t anything special in the directorial department, but the strong cast is headlined by a powerhouse performance from Williams. Her impression is a sight to behold, so sit back, relax and try your best to take it all in.