'My Week with Marilyn' elevates Michelle Williams' career

December 23, 2011 

As a snapshot of history, My Week with Marilyn is fascinating.

Take that thought another step into good movie territory, and My Week with Marilyn isn’t that great. It’s not bad, but this is not a story that will wow you.

What does grab your attention are the great performances that dot its landscape and will have you leaving the theater jaw agape.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Based on Colin Clark’s two autobiographical books, the focus is his love of and relationship with the actress during the making of 1957’s The Prince and the Show Girl. As the film’s third-assistant director, it became Clark’s job to keep tabs on the mostly undependable Monroe. Like all men of the era, Clark — played by bright-eyed Eddie Redmayne — fell in love with Monroe.

The most revealing scenes focus on Monroe and her interaction with Clark. You don’t give a rip about him, but the dialogue gives lots of insight — at least according to Clark — into who she was and how she thought.

Then, there’s Monroe’s relationship with her much-in-lust co-star Olivier, how easily controlled Monroe was by the sycophants that glommed onto her and her difficulty staying in touch with reality.

The acting accolades start with Michelle Williams. She doesn’t just play Marilyn Monroe, she “is” Marilyn Monroe. From the giggle to the wiggle, Williams nails the fabled actress’ mannerisms, voice and — what stories since the 1960s have told us — how she really behaved on a movie set and in real life.

Monroe can be best characterized as a mass of insecurities in a non-stop war with a gigantic ego. Williams captures it perfectly.

Equally exceptional are Kenneth Branaghs Olivier, Julia Ormond who plays Olivier’s wife, Vivian Leigh, Judi Dench’s Dame Sybil Thorndike and Emma Watson as Monroe’s acting coach.

There are others but all pale compared to Williams. Just hand her the Oscar, the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild award and all the rest.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for mature themes, brief nudity and language. It opens Friday at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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