I had my doubts about this film, and understandably so. I mean, if asked who could play Marilyn Monroe your first thought wouldn’t be Michelle Williams would it? Though I can’t stand her, a more obvious choice would be Scarlet Johansson. She’s bubbly and curvaceous with a magnetic on-screen charm. And she exudes old Hollywood glamour. But My week with Marilyn isn’t about the larger than life icon, it’s a glimpse at the woman behind the persona; Norma Jean. And after watching the film I can say with absolute confidence that Michelle Williams was the perfect choice. Michelle Williams is an expert at playing broken, deeply flawed, and troubled characters. Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, even Dawson’s creek are just a few films (and one TV show) where she indulges in the emotionally shattered. And now she takes on the iconic Marilyn Monroe. Revealing a side to the film star few people ever got to see. Williams creates a complex character, exploring the vulnerable, very insecure and unsure side of Marilyn with childlike innocence, while maintaining that playful, enchanting persona of Marilyn the world over came to know and love.
Set during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), Marilyn is out of her depth challenged by a role that requires more than her luminous smile and on-screen charm. Intimidated and unsure of herself she crumbles under the pressure of her own insecurities. But during the production, surprisingly set over one week, she finds comfort in Colin Clark; a fresh-faced college boy in his first job as assistant director. It’s a brief fling that ends before it ever really begins; a fleeting moment but a significant point in both their lives. However I found the romantic storyline a little under developed and uninteresting. Though it’s a first hand account based on Colin Clarks memoirs, surprisingly it’s the intense relationship and on set struggle with Lawrence Olivier that is most interesting and engaging to watch. I wish they would have explored that more. There’s a great chemistry between Williams and Kenneth Branagh (Sir Lawrence), a conceivable tension and awkwardness that’s developed as Sir Lawrence becomes increasingly impatient and cruel with a loathing towards her that’s palpable. It’s like waiting for a balloon to burst under the pressure, but rather than pop in an explosive ending it deflated in an anti climactic, but far from disappointing, finish. My week with Marilyn is a mere glimpse, a fleeting moment in the starlet’s life filled with so much mystery, scandal, and intrigue. It’s a beautiful film; quaint, with masterful storytelling and impressive performances from Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Eddie Redmayne. It’s a film highlight of the year and a solid 3.5 out of 5.