Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Michelle Williams Elevates My Week with Marilyn to be Something Better than it's Subject Material

My Week with Marilyn (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Written by: Adrien Hodges
Starring: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne

Marilyn Monroe was a icon; she was someone women wanted to be, and men wanted be with.  Monroe was idealized that there is often a thought that she was never truly herself, or that even in life she was always playing a role.  This film centers around Collin Clark who wrote two books about the film actress entitled "My Week with Marilyn" and "The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me."

Collin Clark (Redmayne) was an ambitious young man from a privileged background; he went to the finest schools in England, like Eaton, but loved film and wanted to work in the film industry.  At one point while at one of his families parties Collin meets the famed movie actor Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh) and his wife film actress Vivien Leigh (Julia Ormond), and Clark goes to Olivier's office day after day to get work with him.  Leigh convinces her husband to help him out, and Clark ends up getting a job on the film Olivier will star and direct entitled The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).  The other star of the picture is none other than the most famous actress of the time, Marilyn Monroe (Williams).  The film chronicles Clark's interactions with Marilyn, and Marilyn's journey to be an actress, an icon, and trying to find balance the person in between.

First time film director Simon Curtis struggles to bring this film to bring vibrancy to this film.  While the direction and Hodges script are not bad they lack the hook that pulls you in wanting more of the overall film.  The supporting players not mentioned where one dimensional.  Dominic Cooper's character Milton who supposedly had a similar situation with Marilyn added nothing to Clark's development.
Emma Watson  played the jilted costume designer Lucy, was used to show the effect Marilyn had on men, but to no avail we already know this.  Clark's connection to Lucy was not significantly developed enough to make me feel bad for her.  Judi Dench added another role where she plays the older wise British woman helping the younger generation.  While I know these interactions were based on actual events, there could have been more that made these characters more interesting.

The focus and center of the film like in real life was on Marilyn Monroe played by Michelle Williams.  Williams is radiant in this daunting role.  Monroe was seen as a movie star, sexual icon, and all around force in the film industry, for a short career.  Williams took on this role like Cate Blanchett did within the The Aviator; she never made Monroe into a caricature, but gave her the depth she deserved.  Williams continues to prove within this film that she is a terrific actress who can create different role that have so many layers and substance.  There were two moments that sealed her performance for me. The first was where she was in front of a group of people and asked "Should I be her" to Clark and she starts to put on a show and act for her fans.  The second was where she was playing her character and dancing in the film.  Both of these scenes were flawless, and prove that Williams is one of the best younger talents.

The strong part of the film was counter balance of Marilyn Monroe with Sir Laurence Olivier.  Olivier was frustrated with Monroe's style of method acting. Olivier was a classically trained actor who was naturally good at what he did, while Monroe had to work at her craft but was a superstar.  Clark points in the film that both Monroe and Olivier wanted what the other was lacking.  Branagh does a good job as Olivier, and delivers some stellar speeches, but I never felt as though I was watching Olivier.

Overall the film has its ups and downs, but most of the ups come from Williams.  I can't say I loved this film, but her performance made me sit back in my seat in awe of her sheer talent.  This reminded me of watching Some Like it Hot, and the way Monroe cast that power over movie goers.  Job well done!

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