My Week with Marilyn is a 2011 film based on the true story that transpired in the summer of 1956 on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, a film that brought together two titans of show business—the highly acclaimed thespian Sir Laurence Olivier and Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe—with fresh Oxford graduate Colin Clark playing the bridge that connected the two famed actors both on and off the set.
The film, from its opening scene all the way throughout, belongs to the wickedly charming Monroe, expertly played by Michelle Williams. Williams embodies the role of the pop culture sex symbol with a delicate grace, one that whispers instead of shouts. Williams charms not only the characters in the film, but the audience as well, and the performance is given an additional layer of heft considering Monroe’s real life swan song only years later.
The film follows Clark (Eddie Redmayne), the 23-year old Oxford grad who is willing to do anything to break into the film business. As luck would have it, a door is opened on the set of the Olivier/Monroe film, and Colin immediately proves his dedication and worth to the project by winning over the infamously serious Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) before succumbing to the subtle charms of Monroe once she lands in jolly old England. Branagh’s performance is also outstanding, especially as the script calls for him to be playing a role within a role when onset of the 1956 film.
The movie allows the viewer to be a fly on the wall throughout the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, showing the troubling tightrope the newly married and already megastar Monroe is forced to walk on a daily basis between being herself and being the person everyone expects her to be.
What the movie lacks in intensity it replaces with charm, and it’s a breezy, enjoyable film that never wears out its welcome. It’s worth seeing for the performance of Williams alone, which has already garnered the young actress with a Golden Globe for Best Female Performance in a Musical or Comedy. She does a breathtaking job of embodying the infamous starlet, and the film around here keeps its head above water just enough to make it a film, that while itself not as outstanding as the performance contained within it, is worthy of an afternoon at the theater.
Grade: 7.75/10 (Good)