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Michelle Williams Shines in My Week With Marilyn

Posted on the 22 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Michelle Williams shines in My Week With Marilyn

In 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark, fresh from Oxford and harbouring a passion for films, landed a job as an assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and screen sex siren Marilyn Monroe. The experience became a book – The Prince, the Showgirl and Me – a diary of his time on the set, excepting one week. The lost week later became a book on its own, My Week With Marilyn and that book has now become a significantly romanticised movie. Got it? Good.

In the film, Colin (Eddie Redmayne) is tapped to accompany Marilyn (Michelle Williams) on a trip through the English countryside after her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), leaves, and as tensions between Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn rise. As Marilyn grows closer to Colin, the film’s youthful centre, her vulnerability and depression under the constant media glare are revealed; and as Marilyn’s work habits grow increasingly erratic, so too is Olivier’s comic rage.

Critics aren’t panning My Week With Marilyn, but they’re not as head over heels in love with it as the world was with Marilyn herself. Williams, however, is earning rave reviews for her turn as the vulnerable sex symbol – making one wonder if the metallic scent of Oscar gold is in the air.

Too twee in a bygone England. “It really is a remarkable turn from Williams, who perfectly echoes Monroe’s ability to flip from private vulnerability to public invulnerability with the flick of an internal switch: one minute a megastar, the next a servile pawn in everyone else’s designs,” cheered Luke Holland at Den of Geek, showering praise as well on Branagh’s “inch-perfect delivery almost single-handedly carries the entire comedic side of the film”. Ultimately, however, the film’s almost too weightless, anchored in good performances but almost to slight to be taken seriously. “The film is left with an air of inescapable tweeness, which is entirely watchable if a little inconsequential.”

A well-made minor movie. Michelle Williams can play Marilyn Monroe, David Denby judged in The New Yorker: Physically, there are differences, but “she has the sexual sweetness and the hurt, lost look that shifts, in a flash, into resistance and tears”. And that’s it: “It’s an expertly made, intentionally minor movie, though when Monroe, doping herself with everything available, lies in bed, confused and hapless, there are depressing intimations of the end to come.”

More plaudits for Williams. Concentrating not so much on the film itself, Peter Travers at Rolling Stone was clearly taken with Williams: “The luminous Michelle Williams goes bone-deep here… It took a toll on Monroe to look effortlessly buoyant on camera. Williams lets us see why. It’s a great, soulful performance. Sit back and behold.

Cartoonish. Dismissing the film in perhaps the longest sentence ever included in a review, James Christley at Slant Magazine complained that the movie went “off the rails in its very first scene”, with protagonist Colin heading to the movies to watch iconic Marilyn on the big screen. “It soon becomes clear, as the non-story is set in motion, that My Week with Marilyn is little more than Styrofoam packaging for a Michelle Williams Oscar campaign, all shrink-wrapped and ready to go,” he sniped.


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