I am sure that I had the same thoughts as many other people when I heard a film was being made about Marilyn Monroe. She is such an icon that I never thought any actress today could in any way pull off a good portrayal of her. Then I thought maybe the film would be a certain actress’ take on Marilyn, not necessarily a true portrayal of her. Michelle Williams was eventually cast as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. I remained skeptical. My opinion of the film changed for the better within a matter of minutes after seeing the first trailer.
The film is based on a book written by Colin Clark about the week he spent with Marilyn Monroe when she was filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England in 1956. At the time, the film was called The Sleeping Prince. Colin Clark came from a well-off family, but had aspirations of his own to make it in the movie business. Through family connections, he was able to work for Laurence Olivier (aka “Larry) on his new film, which he directed and starred in. Things became very interesting for Colin when Marilyn Monroe showed up for work.
My Week with Marilyn is truly an ensemble cast. While the main character is Colin Clark, the film surprisingly does not solely focus on Marilyn in every scene. Eddie Redmayne plays Colin who is quite enamored with Marilyn, played by Michelle Williams. The rest of the cast is made up of Kenneth Branagh (Laurence Olivier), Julia Ormond (Vivien Leigh), Emma Watson (Lucy), Toby Jones (Arthur Jacobs), Dougray Scott (unrecognizable as Marilyn’s then husband, Arthur Miller), Dominic Cooper (Milton Green), Judi Dench (Dame Sybil Throndike), and Derek Jacobi (Sir Owen Morshead). Each and every one of them makes this film great. If it was just Michelle Williams and Eddie Redmayne on screen the whole time, I do not think it would have been such a high caliber film. I firmly believe that director Simon Curtis is responsible for making the whole cast work so seamlessly well together.
People are going to go and see this film to see Michelle Williams play Marilyn Monroe. She literally becomes Marilyn Monroe, body and soul. Her mannerisms, her voice, and the way she moves are all Marilyn. Part way through the film you start to forget that it is even Michelle Williams anymore. That is how good she is. I think every review that will be written about this film will have the words “Oscar nomination” in it because she earned it through and through. Just give her the Oscar now. There is no need to even have anyone else nominated in the Best Actress category at this point.
While Michelle’s performance is spot on, the film reveals what Marilyn was probably like to work with and what her personal life was like in 1956. The film gives insight into her mental state, the probable addictions she had to pills and alcohol, and the people she surrounded herself with. She was an insecure person when it came to her acting ability. She only ever wanted to be loved by a man. Her relationship with new husband, Arthur Miller, is examined in the film and is revealing of her insecurities when it comes to men. Her brief relationship with Colin Clark shows the ups and downs of Marilyn, and how absolutely tiring it may have been to deal with her erratic behavior and mood swings. Director Simon Curtis pointed out in a Q&A that if she had lived today, she might have been diagnosed as bipolar.
My Week with Marilyn is a wonderful film filled with stellar performances, not just the extraordinary one by Michelle Williams. The film is grounded by the true story as written by the main character, Colin Clark. The fact that this quite possibly is a true to life portrayal of Marilyn Monroe makes this a must-see for anyone who is a fan of the icon. This film is bound to have multiple nominations in many categories come award season, not just in Best Actress. Director Simon Curtis managed to turn the book into an intriguing film that should be a must see this holiday season.
I give My Week with Marilyn 4 “Blonde Bombshells” out of 5.