My Week with Marilyn

(2011)

Genres: Drama

Review: My Week With Marilyn

Transcript for Review: My Week With Marilyn

CHRISTY LEMIRE:

Next up is "My Week With Marilyn," featuring Michelle Williams giving a thoroughly committed performance as Marilyn Monroe. It takes place during the shooting of "The Prince and the Showgirl" in England in 1956, when Monroe was the most famous person on the planet.

Despite her celebrity and new marriage to Arthur Miller, Monroe desperately wanted to be taken seriously. Even though this movie is a light romantic comedy, it gives her a chance to work with Laurence Olivier, played by Kenneth Branagh, as both her director and co-star. She is, of course, paralyzed with fear. But Olivier's wife, Vivien Leigh -- played by Julia Ormond -- tries to encourage her.


Monroe also seeks comfort in a young, star-struck and personality-free assistant, Colin -- the real-life writer whose memoirs are the basis for the film -- played by Eddie Redmayne. She keeps drawing him closer even as all her various hangers-on view him as a threat and try to push him away.

Williams gets a lot of the details right in her extended impression of Monroe -- the breathy voice, the flirty demeanor and even some subtle facial gestures. But you never forget that you're watching Michelle Williams playing Marilyn Monroe. No matter how good Williams is -- how good she always is -- the Monroe she gets to work with only has two gears. She's either the dazzling, charismatic sex symbol or she's needy, insecure and stoned. I mean surely there was more complexity to this icon, but you won't find it here. Thumbs down from me.

IGNATIY:

It’s a thumbs down from me as well. This is a really flimsy movie propping up a performance that frankly isn’t all that great. It’s like propping up, I don’t know, cardboard with paper. Um…

CHRISTY:

No, she’s better than that. I mean she does inhabit it, but it’s tough

IGNATIY:

She doesn’t…

CHRISTY:

…when it’s someone this famous you can’t really get lost in that well. I don’t think.

IGNATIY:

It’s—it’s an impression. It’s an impression, and you’re right maybe if she had been given a better script one that wasn’t just a bunch of, you know, essentially everything we know about all this popculture stuff we already know about Marilyn Monroe: she’s married to Arthur Miller, she pops pills, sometimes she’s sad, she wants to get treated seriously. There you go that’s all there is to the Monroe character in this film, and then, there’s no—the plot is just—it’s just incidence to prop up this, uh, this impression.

CHRISTY:

And the kid is boring. Why she clings to him—I mean when it’s about the movie and about like the machinery of Hollywood.

IGNATIY:

Well, because he wrote the memoir this is based on so obviously Marilyn Monroe thought he was a really cool guy.

CHRISTY:

There you go! For that one day they went skinny dipping in the lake. It was very exciting.

IGNATIY:

I’m sure it really happened.